TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
A Dallas County jury has found ex-Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder in the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards who was fatally wounded while trying to leave a house party with his brothers in Balch Springs, Texas last year.
As the jury handed in its verdict, a photo of the young teen rested underneath Judge Brandon Birmingham’s bench—where it was left during the weeklong trial, according to the Star-Telegram.
News of the guilty verdict spread quickly on social media with users praising the outcome that happened to fall on the anniversary of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.
— Sebastian Robertson (@wfaasebastian) August 28, 2018
The Edwards family reaction was also shared online by WFAA reporter Rebecca Lopez: “Jordan Edward’s Family very emotional in courtroom saying “Thank You Jesus.”
Jordan Edward’s Family very emotional in courtroom saying “Thank You Jesus.” Former Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver found guilty of murder for shooting the unarmed teen.
— Rebecca Lopez (@rlopezwfaa) August 28, 2018
Lopez reports that Oliver was found not guilty of the aggravated assault charges but found guilty of murdering the high school freshman.
NBC reports that the family is pleased with the verdict.
Jordan Edwards’ father, Odell Edwards, said after that he wanted to “jump up and down” when he heard the verdict and was “thankful.”
“I’m happy, very happy. It’s been a long time, a hard year,” he said.
#RoyOliverTrial #JordanEdwards’ father reacts to GUILTY VERDICT in police officer trial. Says he was “happy… wanted to jump up and down”, says his son “would have been a star.” Family has avoided politicizing death. But, attorney says verdict sends message @CBSDFW pic.twitter.com/aNnAHKZZIV
— Robbie Owens (@cbs11Robbie) August 28, 2018
Oliver was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Jordan Edwards in April 2017 and also charged with four counts of aggravated assault for each of the teens in the car with him that fateful night.
On Thursday, Oliver testified that he heard gunshots. The officers were inside a home and the shots were not connected to the party but were instead coming from outside. It was later determined the shots were coming from a nearby nursing home, reports the Dallas News.
Oliver told jurors that he saw a vehicle attempting to evade the scene and he shot into the car.
“I had to make a decision,” he told jurors.
“This car is about to hit my partner,” Oliver said. “I had no other option.”
But prosecutors argued that the officers were not in any immediate danger. Oliver’s partner testified against him on the first day of the trial saying he never feared for his life.
Jordan’s 16-year-old brother was driving the vehicle. Oliver fired five shots. Jordan was shot in the back of the head.
Afterward, Oliver said, “I was in shock. I was in shock for days.”
After realizing he killed the unarmed teen, he said.
“It was to the gut,” Oliver said, calling it “sickening”.
“My heart sank. For a minute there, it was hard to breathe.”
The fired police officer then blamed his fatal shooting of the unarmed teenager on the victim’s brother, saying on the stand:
“if the driver” —16-year-old Vidal Allen — “would have listened and stopped” the shooting death could have been prevented.
The jury reportedly deliberated for about 12 hours over a period of two days before reaching the guilty verdict.
Now the jury will listen to testimony from friends, family and teachers of Jordan Edwards before determining Oliver’s sentence.