Texas Police Officer Who Fatally Shot A Black Teen Who Was Trying To Leave A House Party Is Fired – BuzzFeed News
A suburban Dallas police department fired the officer who shot and killed a black teenager as he was leaving a house party on Saturday night, officials announced Tuesday.
Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old freshman at Mesquite High School, died after Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver fired multiple rounds with his rifle into the car he was riding in. The car was filled with five teenagers, including Jordan’s two brothers, who were trying to leave an end-of-the-year party that had become unruly after cops arrived.
The freshman’s 16-year-old brother was driving the vehicle during the shooting and noticed his brother’s head was smoking, attorney Lee Merritt said, and then flagged police to help.
On Tuesday, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said Oliver, who was the second officer at the scene, had been terminated. The chief said Oliver, who has been with the department since July 2011, violated several departmental policies, but would not elaborate on which ones. Prosecutors are still investigating and could charge Oliver, who has the right to appeal.
On Monday, Haber reversed the department’s original account of the shooting, acknowledging that the car had been driving away when the officer opened fire with a rifle. Initially, police claimed that the vehicle had been backing up toward officers in “an aggressive manner.”
“I made a mistake and I apologized for it,” Haber said Tuesday.
In a statement, Jordan’s family said they were grateful that Oliver had been terminated and thanked Haber for his “commendable strides toward justice,” but there “remains a long road ahead.”
“The magnitude of his horrible actions cannot be overstated,” the family said. “We fully expect an equivalent response from those responsible for investigating and punishing the crime. We also know that although his actions were the most wicked and consequential, he was not the only officer responsible for dreadful behavior that evening.”
According to attorneys Lee Merritt and Jasmine Crockett, who are representing the Edwards family, Jordan’s two brothers “were forced to experience this tragedy up close as occupants of the car.” After hearing gunshots so close it left their ears ringing, the brothers noticed Jordan slumped over in the passenger seat.
After flagging down the police to help, the teens were “manhandled, intimidated, and arrested while their brother lay dying in the front seat,” Merritt said.
Police arrived at a raucous house party on Baron Street Saturday around 11 p.m. and were attempting to find the owners of the home when they heard multiple gunshots coming from outside “causing a chaotic scene with numerous people running away,” Officer Pedro Gonzalez explained Tuesday.
A neighbor told the Dallas Morning News that about 100 teens were at the house party and several cars were blocking people’s driveways. Lisa Roberson, whose son threw the party while she was out of town, told the outlet that her son said there was no alcohol at the house.
After the first officer arrived, the teens quickly scattered, neighbors said. Oliver, the second officer, arrived shortly after.
Officers confronted the vehicle Jordan was riding in, which was backing down the street, and shouted at it. The car then pulled forward as Oliver approached, still giving verbal commands, police said. The teens continued driving away from the scene and Oliver then opened fire, striking the 15-year-old passenger in the head. Jordan died from his wounds after being transported to a local hospital.
But Haber conceded at a news conference Monday that the officers’ account was inaccurate, and that after reviewing dash cam footage, it was clear the vehicle was “moving forward” as the officers approached.
“After viewing the video, I don’t believe that it met our core values,” Haber said.
While Jordan’s family vowed it would fight to ensure all officers involved “would be properly reprimanded,” they urged people not to commit violence against law enforcement, or protest or march in their son’s name.
“What we desire only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is JUSTICE FOR JORDAN,” they wrote.
Jordan, an honor student and athlete, was “very well liked by his teachers, coaches, and fellow students,” the Mesquite Independent School District said in a statement.
“The entire district — especially the staff and students of Mesquite High School — are mourning this terrible loss,” it concluded.
The teen adored football, Merritt told BuzzFeed News, and was excited to play on the freshman team with his friends, many of whom shared their heartbreak and sadness on social media.
Mesquite High School football coach Jeff Fleener told Dallas News that Jordan had “a smile that could light up a room.”
“The best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world would happen, and he’d smile, and everything would be OK,” the coach said. “You create a checklist of everything you would want in a player, a son, a teammate, a friend, and Jordan had all that. He was that kid.”