The Killing of Unarmed Teenager Jordan Edwards

Texas police officer kills unarmed and nonthreatening African-American teenager Jordan Edwards

    Jordan Edwards, 15-year-old Mesquite High School freshman and Honor Roll student, attended a house party in Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb, with his two brothers, both 17, and two friends. It was Saturday, 29 April 2017. A police officer responding to a call for service fired his patrol rifle at the car containing the five teenagers. One of the bullets struck Jordan in his head killing him. Jordan was black.[1]

 

    The five boys arrived at the party around 10 pm on Saturday, April 29, 2017.[2]   About 11 pm Balch Springs officers Roy Oliver and Tyler Gross responded to a 911 call at the address alleging a noise disturbance and underage drinking. The officers found no drugs or alcohol in the home. While in the home, the officers heard gunshots and ran outside. (The shots were later determined to have occurred over a block away.) Oliver ran to his patrol car and grabbed a rifle.[3]

 

    Meanwhile, Jordan climbed into the front passenger seat of a car with his two brothers and two friends, and the group began to drive away. Officer Gross yelled for the car to stop and walked to it, breaking a car window with his gun. One of Jordan’s brother testified that he heard shouting but did not know who was yelling or what was being said, and the car did not stop.[4]

 

    Roy Oliver raised his rifle and shot into the car, killing Jordan Edwards with a bullet to the head. Apparently, Oliver ‘flipped off’ the car after killing Jordan. Oliver is white.[5]

 

    On Sunday April 30, Balch Springs police chief Jonathan Haber’s initial statement said that the car was moving, in reverse, toward the police in an ‘aggressive manner,’ and Oliver opened fire. On Monday, May 1 Chief Haber announced that, after watching body-cam video of the incident, his initial statement was incorrect and that the car had been moving away from the officers. Moreover, no alcohol or drugs were found in the car and no evidence that the teens had been drinking. No weapons were found in the car. Therefore, police killed an innocent teen. The Balch Springs Police Department fired Officer Roy Oliver. Haber’s quick admission of and regret for police responsibility in the Edwards’ killing and the swift firing of Officer Oliver is rare for a police department.[6]

 

    Dallas community response was also swift. The Texas Black Legislative Caucus demanded appointment of special prosecutors for officer-involved shootings, reform of the standards for acceptable use of lethal force and reform of how police arrest and send people to county jails.[7]  That Mother’s Day, May 14, hundreds marched in Dallas to support mothers of children lost to lethal police force. The group included Jordan’s mother, Charmaine Edwards.[8]

 

    By Friday that same week, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department issued a warrant for the arrest of Roy Oliver on a charge of murder in addition to four counts of aggravated assault for the same incident.[9]  Also that day, the family of Jordan Edwards filed suit against the city of Balch Springs, that department and Officer Oliver regarding the use of excessive force.[10]

 

    The shooting of Jordan Edwards received national and international press coverage. Discussions of killings of young black men, police use of force and use of lethal force, and the reporting and collection of statistics regarding use of lethal force surround the Jordan Edwards case.[11]

 

    On July 3, 2017 a Dallas County grand jury indicted Roy Oliver on a charge of murder for the death of Jordan Edwards.[12]  Originally set for January 2018 and then delayed until June 2018, the murder trial of Roy Oliver was delayed for a second time to 16 August 2018.[13] The trial began in 292nd District Court, Judge Brandon Birmingham presiding. Oliver was tried for murder and two of the original four counts of aggravated assault and faced up to life in prison on each one of the three felony charges.[14]  The Dallas County District Attorney assigned seven prosecutors to this case.[15]

 

    The jury found former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver guilty of the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The jury delivered their verdict after approximately 13 hours of deliberation and also determined that Oliver was not guilty of the two counts of assault.  He is the first on-duty police officer to be convicted of murder in Dallas County since 1973 when a jury convicted a Dallas police officer in the killing of Santos Rodriguez (also referenced on this map).[16]

 

    After about six hours of deliberation, the jury returned a sentence of 15 years in prison to Roy Oliver for the murder of Jordan Edwards along with a fine of $10,000. The Edwards family is disappointed in what they believe is a short sentence. Nevertheless, the family and prosecutors are very satisfied with the guilty verdict and deem it ‘historic.’[17]

 

    A few weeks after the trial, the remaining two counts of aggravated assault from the Edwards case and another two counts of assault unrelated to the Jordan Edwards case were dismissed, without prejudice (which means prosecutors may re-file the charges).[18] The convicted former police officer plans to appeal his murder conviction. Meanwhile, the Edwards’ family lawsuit against Oliver and the Balch Springs Police Department will go forward.[19]

 


Footnotes

[1] Jennifer Emily, Julieta Chiquillo, Charles Scudder & Eline de Brujin. 2017. “15 year-old’s brothers watched him die after Balch Springs police shooting, family says,” Dallas Morning News, 2 May 2017. Lee, Kurtis. 2017. “Faith, Family, Football,” Los Angeles Times, 19 October 2017.

[2] Kurtis Lee, 2017. “Faith, Family, Football,” Los Angeles Times, 19 October 2017.

[3] Jennifer Emily, 2017. “Gunfire before officer killed Jordan Edwards came from nursing home parking lot, investigators find,” Dallas Morning News, 11 May 2017.

[4] Dan Solomon, 2017. “How the Jordan Edwards Case is Different,” Texas Monthly, 10 May 2017. Manna, Nichole. 2018. "Jordan Edwards' last words were 'Duck, get down.' Then he was fatally shot by police." Star Telegram 16 August 2018.

[5] Tasha Tsiaperas,. 2017. “Cop ‘flipped off’ car full of teens after killing Jordan Edwards, records show,” Dallas Morning News, 9 November 2017.

[6] David A. Graham, David A., 2017 “The Shooting of Jordan Edwards,” The Atlantic, 2 May 2017. Jolie McCullough,  2017 “Why the murder charge against the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards is rare,” Dallas Morning News, 18 July 2017. Jennifer Emily, Julieta Chiquillo, Charles Scudder & Eline de Brujin. 2017. “15 year-old’s brothers watched him die after Balch Springs police shooting, family says,” Dallas Morning News, 2 May 2017. Lee, Kurtis. 2017.

[7] Asher Price, 2017. “In wake of North Texas police shooting, black lawmakers demand action,” Austin American-Statesman, 4 May 2017.

[8] Ed Gray, 2017. “Mother’s Day Protest,” The North Dallas Gazette, 18 May 2017.

[9] Manny Fernandez, and Matthew Haag. 2017. “Police Officer Who Fatally Shot 15-year-Old Texas Boy is Charged with Murder,” New York Times, 5 May 2017.

[10] Cody Lillich, 2017 “Excessive Force Lawsuit Filed in Jordan Edwards Shooting,” NBCDFW, 7 May 2017.

[11] Amnesty International. 2017. “Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States,” amnestyusa.org, 17 June 2017.

[12] Jennifer Emily, & Tasha Tsiaperas. 2017. “Fired cop who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards indicted on murder charge,” Dallas Morning News, 7 July 2017

[13] Tasha Tsiaperas, 2018. “Murder Trial delayed again for Balch Springs cop who killed Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 3 May 2018.

[14] Tasha Tsiaperas, 2018. “In year since Jordan Edwards died in Balch Springs, over 1,000 people have been killed by cops,” Dallas Morning News, 9 April 2018.

[15] “Dallas County District Attorney, Faith Johnson on Roy Oliver, Jordan Edwards,” WFAA, 30 August 2018.

[16] Tasha Tsiaperas, 2018. “Ex-cop Roy Oliver found guilty of murder, could face life for killing Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 28 August 2018.

[17] Tasha Tsiaperas, 2018. “’This is a start,’ says Jordan Edwards’ mother after ex-cop Roy Oliver gets 15 years for murdering 15-year-old,” Dallas Morning News, 29 August 2018.

[18] Jennifer Emily, 2018. “Aggravated assault charges dismissed against ex-cop serving time for murdering Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 11 September 2018. 

[19] Tasha Tsiaperas, 2018. “’This is a start,’ says Jordan Edwards’ mother after ex-cop Roy Oliver gets 15 years for murdering 15-year-old,” Dallas Morning News, 29 August 2018.

Bibliography

Amnesty International. 2017. “Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States,” amnestyusa.org, 17 June 2017. https://www.amnestyusa.org/reports/deadly-force-police-use-of-lethal-force-in-the-united-states/

“Dallas County District Attorney, Faith Johnson on Roy Oliver, Jordan Edwards,” WFAA, 30 August 2018. https://www.wfaa.com/video/news/dallas-county-district-attorney-faith-johnson-on-roy-oliver-jordan-edwards/287-8236104

Emily, Jennifer, 2017. “Gunfire before officer killed Jordan Edwards came from nursing home parking lot, investigators find,” Dallas Morning News, 11 May 2017. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/05/11/gunfire-jordan-edwards-shooting-came-nursing-home-parking-lot-investigators-find

Emily, Jennifer. 2018. “Aggravated assault charges dismissed against ex-cop serving time for murdering Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 11 September 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/09/11/aggravated-assault-charges-dismissed-ex-cop-serving-prison-time-murder-jordan-edwards

 Emily, Jennifer & Tasha Tsiaperas. 2017. “Fired cop who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards indicted on murder charge,” Dallas Morning News, 7 July 2017. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2017/07/17/fired-cop-killed-15-year-old-jordan-edwards-indicted-murder

Emily, Jennifer, Julieta Chiquillo, Charles Scudder & Eline de Brujin. 2017. “15 year-old’s brothers watched him die after Balch Springs police shooting, family says,” Dallas Morning News, 2 May 2017. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/dallas/2017/04/30/officer-fatally-shoots-15-year-old-balch-springs

Fernandez, Manny & Matthew Haag. 2017. “Police Officer Who Fatally Shot 15-year-Old Texas Boy is Charged with Murder,” New York Times, 5 May 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/us/roy-oliver-charged-murder-dallas-police-shooting-jordan-edwards.html

Graham, David A., 2017 “The Shooting of Jordan Edwards,” The Atlantic, 2 May 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/the-shooting-of-jordan-edwards/525141/

Gray, Ed, 2017. “Mother’s Day Protest,” The North Dallas Gazette, 18 May 2017. https://northdallasgazette.com/2017/05/16/ed-gray-mothers-day-protest/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feedburner%2Fndg+%28ndg%29

Lee, Kurtis. 2017. “Faith, Family, Football,” Los Angeles Times, 19 October 2017. http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-na-jordan-edwards/

Lillich, Cody 2017 “Excessive Force Lawsuit Filed in Jordan Edwards Shooting,”NBCDFW,       7 May 2017. https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/DFW-Lawsuit-Alleges-Excessive-Force-Lack-of-Training-in-Balch-Springs-Shooting-421559203.html

Manna, Nichole. 2018. "Jordan Edwards' last words were 'Duck, get down.' Then he was fatally shot by police." Fort Star Telegram 16 August 2018. https://www.startelegram.com/news/local/crime/article216856365.html

McCullough, Jolie, 2017 “Why the murder charge against the Texas police officer who killed Jordan Edwards is rare,” Dallas Morning News, 18 July 2017. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/07/18/texas-police-officer-who-killed-jordan-edwards-was-indicted/

Price, Asher. 2017. “In wake of North Texas police shooting, black lawmakers demand action,” Austin American-Statesman, 4 May 2017. https://www.mystatesman.com/news/wake-north-texas-police-shooting-black-lawmakers-demand-action/9JIXs5U7yPULkTjMoEQGzN/

Solomon, Dan. 2017. “How the Jordan Edwards Case is Different,” Texas Monthly, 10 May 2017. https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/jordan-edwards-case-different/

State of Texas v. Roy Oliver. 2018. Dallas County Criminal Court Records, Case #F 1718595. https://www.dallascounty.org/services/record-search/

Steele, Tom. 2018. “Former cop Roy Oliver begins 15-year prison sentence for murdering Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 17 September 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/09/17/former-cop-roy-oliver-begins-15-year-prison-sentence-murdering-jordan-edwards

Tsiaperas, Tasha. 2017. “Cop ‘flipped off’ car full of teens after killing Jordan Edwards, records show,” Dallas Morning News, 9 November 2017. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2017/11/09/cop-flipped-car-full-teens-killing-jordan-edwards-records-show

Tsiaperas, Tasha. 2018. “In year since Jordan Edwards died in Balch Springs, over 1,000 people have been killed by cops,” Dallas Morning News, 9 April 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/04/29/year-since-jordan-edwards-died-1000-people-killed-cops

Tsiaperas, Tasha. 2018. “Murder Trial delayed again for Balch Springs cop who killed Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 3 May 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/05/03/murder-trial-balch-springs-cop-killed-jordan-edwards-delayed-again

 Tsiaperas, Tasha. 2018. “Ex-cop Roy Oliver found guilty of murder, could face life for killing Jordan Edwards,” Dallas Morning News, 28 August 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/08/28/jurors-reach-verdict-case-cop-killed-15-year-old-jordan-edwards

Tsiaperas, Tasha. 2018. “’This is a start,’ says Jordan Edwards’ mother after ex-cop Roy Oliver gets 15 years for murdering 15-year-old,” Dallas Morning News, 29 August 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/courts/2018/08/29/defense-hopes-show-jury-real-roy-oliver-seeking-mercy-ex-cop-murdered-jordan-edwards

Images

Location of the shooting and death of Jordan Edwards

Location of the shooting and death of Jordan Edwards

As Jordan Edwards and his companions were leaving a house party in a car in April 2017, a police office fired five shots into the car at this intersection, killing Jordan. | Creator: Nancy Cambell View File Details Page

Balch Springs, Texas

Balch Springs, Texas

Dallas, Texas suburb, population approximately 25,000, and site of the shooting and killing of Jordan Edwards. | Source: Nancy Campbell | Creator: Nancy Campbell View File Details Page

Mesquite High School

Mesquite High School

In spring of 2017, Jordan was a freshman and honor roll student. | Creator: Nancy Campbell View File Details Page

Mesquite High School Skeeters logo

Mesquite High School Skeeters logo

Jordan was a member of the Skeeters football team | Creator: Nancy Campbell View File Details Page

Street Address:

Intersection of Baron Drive and Shepherd Lane, Balch Springs, Texas [map]

Cite this Page:

Nancy Campbell and Ed Gray, “The Killing of Unarmed Teenager Jordan Edwards,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed December 17, 2018, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/13.

Share this Story