Police to review policies after longtime local shoeshine man declared dead twice

Robert Pearson fell on hard times last summer after the bank lobby in which he worked was...
Robert Pearson fell on hard times last summer after the bank lobby in which he worked was closed due to COVID-19, but residents rallied to make sure he had plenty of shoes to shine. (File)(Courtesy photo)
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Police are reviewing death call policies after mortuary workers discovered longtime Waco shoeshine man Robert Pearson, 76, who was declared dead Monday after he was found unresponsive in his apartment, was actually still alive.

“We are very saddened by the loss of such a staple in our community and are currently investigating the cause of his death,” Waco police Officer Garen Bynum said.

“We are also reviewing our policies and practices to ensure our response to possible death calls include the assessment of medical professionals.”

Officers, were sent Monday to the Whispering Oaks apartment complex at 4400 North 19th St.  where Pearson lived in response to a possible questionable death, Bynum said.

Apartment management told officers Pearson was found dead in his apartment, he said.

“According to officers, after entering Mr. Pearson’s apartment, there was no sign of life,” Bynum said.

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Pete Peterson pronounced Pearson dead of natural causes.

But when Waco Mortuary Services workers arrived to pick up Pearson’s body, Pearson started to move.

“Officers immediately requested AMR and Waco Fire to the scene for immediate medical care. After AMR medics arrived, they transported Mr. Pearson to a local hospital,” Bynum said.

Later in the afternoon by Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center notified police that Pearson had passed away.

Police are now searching for relatives.

“At this time there is no known next of kin,” Bynum said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about Pearson’s family to call the Waco Police Department at (254) 750-7500.

Pearson fell on hard times last summer after the lobby of Extraco Banks in which he worked was closed because of COVID-19.

He’d been working at the bank since September 2019 when the City of Waco terminated his contract at Waco Regional Airport where he had been a fixture for 14 years.

The bank’s vice president, Sam Brown, who had invited Pearson to set up shop in the lobby, issued an appeal for shoes for Pearson to shine, offering to pick them up himself, and residents were quick to respond.

Pearson also shined shoes on weekends at the Magnolia Silos in downtown Waco.

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