The former Texas police officer who shot into a car full of black unarmed teens and killed Jordan Edwards has been found guilty of murder.
A Dallas County jury deliberated for 12 hours Monday and Tuesday, and concluded that Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver, who is white, was not justified when he opened fire on the car carrying Jordan and four others as they were trying to leave a house party in late April of last year.
Jurors found Oliver not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault tied to the incident.
On April 29, 2017, around 11 p.m. Balch Springs police officers responded to reports of a house party in the Dallas area that had gotten out of control. When they arrived, partygoers were attempting to leave. The atmosphere at first was described as lighthearted: Police joked with teens as they left the premises. But then the sound of gunshots rang out, coming from a nearby nursing home, unrelated to the party. Oliver fetched his rifle and ran toward the nursing home, and then encountered the vehicle full of teens. Edwards, 15, was in the front passenger seat, and his older brother was driving. Nobody was armed.
Oliver opened fire on the vehicle. One of the five bullets he fired shattered the windshield and struck Edwards in the head.
Oliver later testified that he fired at the car because he saw it creeping toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, and he believed Gross's life was in danger. Gross, however, testified that he didn’t fear for his life.
And body cam footage contradicted Oliver’s account. When he opened fire, the vehicle was driving away from him.
At the request of Edwards family, activist groups postponed or cancelled protests over his death until after he was buried.
Oliver was fired from the department for violating policy and was charged with murder on May 5, 2017. The 38-year-old is now facing up to life in prison.
While the number of charges against officers who kill civilians has crept up over the years, which experts have linked to the growth in video evidence from shootings, convictions have remained rare. Of the 92 police officers charged with murder or manslaughter since 2005, only around 35 percent were convicted, according to Phil Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University and expert in police misconduct. The other cases were either pending or resulted in non-convictions.
Oliver joined the Balch Springs PD in 2011. In 2013, he was suspended and required to take anger management classes after erupting during courtroom proceedings, NBC News reported.
Cover: An image of Roy Oliver taken by the physical evidence detective the morning after Oliver fatally shot Jordan Edwards is shown as evidence during the fifth day of the trial of fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, who is charged with the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, at the Frank Crowley Courts Building August 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Rose Baca - Pool/Getty Images)