15-year-old Jordan Edwards’ family have received some justice following the loss of their son.
On Monday, prosecutors with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office announced Former Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver was indicted on a murder charge in the April shooting death of a black teenager.
The grand jury’s indictment also charged 37-year-old Oliver with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public official. Those charges were for the other four teens in the car with Edwards, said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
The Associated Press reports:
Body camera footage of the incident showed Oliver shooting his rifle into a car that was moving away from him and another officer.
Edwards, his two brothers and two other teens were leaving the party where police had arrived to investigate an underage drinking complaint. Officers heard unrelated gunshots and spotted the vehicle leaving.
Shots from Oliver’s rifle pierced the front passenger window, hitting Edwards in the head as he sat in the front seat.
An attorney for the teen’s family, Lee Merritt, said Oliver getting indicted is “one step on the road to justice.”
“We’re looking forward to a conviction and proper sentencing,” the lawyer said. He added that anything less than serious jail time wouldn’t be adequate.
Charmaine Edwards said the world lost “so much” with the death of her stepson, who was a high school freshman at the time.
“A great kid, a great football player, straight-A student … somebody who was going to go somewhere,” she said.
Last month, Oliver was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant in an unrelated incident, where he is accused of displaying a gun during a traffic accident. Oliver was off duty in Dallas when another vehicle rear-ended his and, according to a police report, he pulled his service weapon and kept it pointed at the ground.
A Dallas officer who responded to the incident, which happened two weeks before Oliver shot Edwards, didn’t file charges. Prosecutors later sought charges, though, saying the Dallas incident “showed a pattern of behavior.”
The Balch Springs Police Department fired in May for ‘violating department policies’.
Oliver continues to insist his actions were justified. On Tuesday, the former officer submitted his response to a wrongful death suit filed by Edwards’ parents in a lengthy 22-page filing detailing his account of the incident.
On April 29, 2017, Oliver said he was the backup officer assisting a colleague as they responded to a call of intoxicated teenagers having a party.
While speaking to teenagers inside the house, Oliver said he and everyone heard six to 10 gunshots outside, then saw a fleeing black Chevrolet Impala. Oliver ran to his patrol vehicles and retrieved his patrol rifle.
Despite commands to stop, the driver of the Impala refused to, according to Oliver’s filing.
“Oliver sees [his colleague, Ofc. Tyler] Gross move his weapon towards the rear passenger-side window. Oliver hears violence/breaking glass at Gross’ location; and in fear for himself and others, Oliver fires his weapon into the car (3-5 shots) from approximately 10′ to 15′ and into the closed glass windows,” the filing states.
“The car was right beside the officers when the shots were fired,” it continues and Oliver said, “…he specifically denies that he unjustifiably assaulted, killed [Jordan Edwards], anyone; and further, Officer Oliver denies that he violated anyone’s constitutional rights.”
The wrongful death suit filed against Oliver and the City of Balch Springs in Federal Court on May 5, 201, claims Oliver’s use of excessive and deadly force resulted in the unlawful shooting death of Edwards and accuses the City of Balch Springs of failing “to properly train, supervise, screen, discipline, transfer, counsel or otherwise control officers who are known, or who should have been known, to engage in the use of excessive force and/or deadly force, including those officers repeatedly accused of such acts.”
“Hopefully, it’s a message to the bad officers,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said in a press conference following Monday’s inditement, “And that is, if you do wrong, we will prosecute you.”