A Texas police chief said he “misspoke” when initially saying that one of his officers shot into a car full of teens that was threateningly backing toward him, when in fact the vehicle was driving away.
Jordan Edwards, 15, was at a house party with his brothers in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs on Saturday evening. The owner of the house told the Dallas Morning News that her son threw the party without her approval when she was out of town, and her son said there wasn’t alcohol at the get-together though a neighbor had called police on suspicion that there was teen drinking.
In the midst of the commotion as two officers came to break up the party, a few gunshots were heard. The Balch Springs Police Department said their officers were inside the home at the time and “immediately exited the residence to investigate the gunshots.” Jordan, a straight-A student and football player at Mesquite High School, his brothers Vidal and Kevon, and two friends jumped in a car to get away from the scene after hearing the shots, family attorney Lee Merritt said.
One of the officers at the scene fired three shots at the departing car. At least one of the rifle rounds struck Jordan in the head through the passenger window, killing the teen.
None of the other teens in the car are facing any charges.
“It has been determined Roy Oliver, who was the second officer at the scene, violated several departmental policies,” the department said in a statement, noting that the officer was fired Tuesday. “The Balch Springs Police Department cannot give further details on which policies have been violated since Roy Oliver can appeal the termination.” Oliver, 37, had been with the department since 2011 and was previously in the Army, with service in Iraq.
Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber first said the officer claimed the car was backing up toward him in an “aggressive manner,” but later said body cam video showed the car moving away from the officer when he fired into the vehicle.
Jordan’s parents, Charmaine and Odell Edwards, released a family statement via their attorney thanking well-wishers for their prayers, asking for “the opportunity and space to grieve,” and calling for justice.
“Jordan was a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit. The bond that he shared with his family, particularly his siblings, was indescribable. Not only have Jordan’s brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless murder,” the Edwards family said. “Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable violence.”
“While our family attempts to cope with our loss, we ask that at this time the community please refrain from protests and marches in Jordan’s and our family’s name, as we prepare for his funeral,” they added. “We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies.”
After Oliver’s termination was announced, the family said in another statement that they were “grateful,” but “a long road remains ahead” and they “anxiously await” the officer’s “arrest for the crime of murder.”
“The magnitude of his horrible actions cannot be overstated… 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.”
Jordan’s parents said after he was shot, his brothers were “manhandled, intimidated and arrested while their brother lay dying in the front seat.”
“The officers who extended this nightmare for those children ought to be properly reprimanded as well,” they added. “Our family is working hard to deal with both the loss of our beloved Jordan and the lingering trauma it has cause our boys.”
Merritt said at a press conference that there were no excuses for what happened to Jordan.
“We’ve heard excuses before in the past: ‘You know why it happens, because the dads aren’t present.’ That excuse isn’t here,” the attorney said. “Or, ‘the kid was violent.’ That excuse isn’t present here.”
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson assured her “they have already started to conduct separate but fair, independent and thorough investigations” into the incident.
“It is also imperative that we aggressively pursue these two separate investigations to preserve the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” the congresswoman added.