A Texas jury has found former Balch Springs, Texas police officer Roy Oliver guilty in the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — an unarmed black teen who was leaving a party.
— Sebastian Robertson (@wfaasebastian) August 28, 2018
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the jury handed down Oliver’s verdict after 12 hours of deliberation. The Texas Tribune reported that Oliver is the first on-duty Texas police officer convicted on a murder charge in 45 years. The Tribune‘s investigation of 656 police shootings between 2010 and 2015 in the state’s largest cities only led to criminal indictments against seven police officers — none of which were for murder — with no jail time for either one.
In April of 2017, Officer Oliver and his partner, Tyler Gross, were responding to a call about intoxicated kids in the street when the officers encountered Edwards and his friends walking to their car to leave a party. As the 2004 Chevy Impala Edwards was in (his brother, 16-year-old Vidal Allen, was driving) slowly reversed to leave the spot where it was parked, Oliver fired five shots into the car with his rifle before asking his partner if he was okay. Jordan Edwards was shot in the head and died instantly.
Gross actually against his former partner in the murder trial, saying he was never in fear for his life. Body camera footage of the shooting shows that the car was moving away from Oliver and Gross when the shots were fired, undermining Oliver’s argument that he fired on the teens because his life was in danger. An independent expert in police use of deadly force also testified that Oliver’s decision to shoot Edwards was not justified.
“I had to make a decision. This car is about to hit my partner,” Oliver said during his trial. “I had no other option.”
In 2017, Odell Edwards, Jordan’s father told civil rights activist and journalist Shaun King that his children have been permanently traumatized by their brother’s death.
“When they dream, they see Jordan, with smoke coming out of his head from the shot. That’s what they were forced to see. Our 4-year-old daughter, who has accidentally overheard what happened, is drawing pictures of her big brother with a hole in his head. What are we supposed to say to her?” Odell Edwards said.
Two weeks before he killed Jordan Edwards, Oliver allegedly pointed his gun at a woman who accidentally rear-ended his truck while he was off duty and waiting at a red light. Oliver was indicted on aggravated assault charges as a result of that incident, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Oliver has not yet been sentenced, but in Texas, murder is a first-degree felony that typically carries a penalty of up to life in prison.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.