Saturday, May 6, 2017

Texas police officer charged with murder of unarmed teen

Roy Oliver, fired Balch Springs police officer, is shown in a Parker County Jail booking photo after he turned himself in on a charge of murder in the shooting and killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards (right).(Parker County Sheriff's Dept.)
Balch Springs TX May 6 2017 Roy Oliver, the fired Balch Springs police officer who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards as he was driving away from a party, was arrested on a murder charge Friday night.
Oliver, 37, turned himself in at the Parker County Jail. Bail was set at $300,000. He posted bond and was out before 10 p.m.
If convicted of murder, he faces up to life in prison. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
Oliver, who lives in Combine, fired a rifle into a car of teenagers as they drove away from a party Saturday night, striking Jordan, a passenger, in the head, police said. The six-year veteran of the department was fired Tuesday.
He was the second of two officers who responded to a report of underage drinking. After gunfire was heard in the area, Jordan and four other teenagers got in their car to leave.
Police originally said Oliver fired on the car because it was backing up aggressively toward the officers. But the department revised its account after reviewing body-cam footage, saying the car was driving away when Jordan was shot.
The arrest warrant affidavit says another officer used his gun to break the car's rear window before Oliver got behind the officer and fired several rounds into the car as it drove past.
The white officer's shooting of an unarmed black teenager has renewed allegations nationwide that racial bias among police has led to deadly overreactions.
An attorney for Jordan's family, Lee Merritt, said Friday that Jordan's parents were "grateful" investigators sought a murder charge. The news came as they prepared to bury Jordan on Saturday.
Merritt said it was clear from the start that Oliver should be arrested on the highest possible charge.
"I think it begins to at least give the appearance that the state is not going to sweep this clear wrong under the rug as it's done in the past," Merritt said. "However we also have to learn from history that we don't have a conviction yet. And so we still have some ways to go."
Jordan was a straight-A student and a standout athlete who was beloved by his Mesquite High schoolmates. He played on the freshman football team and was supposed to begin playing defensive back this spring.
"The best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world would happen, and he'd smile, and everything would be OK," head football coach Jeff Fleener 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."
The arrest warrant affidavit provides new details about what happened the night Jordan was shot.
Oliver and a second officer, both wearing body cameras, went into the house party in the 12000 block of Baron Drive. They were talking to the host when they heard what sounded like gunshots, the arrest warrant affidavit says.
Both officers went outside to see what was going on and saw several people running toward the corner of Shepherd Lane and Baron Drive. The second officer walked toward the area where he thought the shots had been fired.
Oliver went to the patrol car and got his rifle, a Modern Carbine, Model MC5.
The second officer tried to stop a black Chevrolet Impala at the intersection. The car slowly reversed, and the second officer pulled his gun and walked toward the passenger side of the car.
As the car started to drive forward, the officer used his gun to break the rear passenger window.
That's when Oliver got behind the officer and fired several rounds into the car as it drove past him.
Other Balch Springs officers stopped the car in the 12000 block of Bishop Drive, about two blocks from the party.
Dallas County investigators found four rifle cartridges from the intersection of Shepherd Lane and Baron Drive.
The warrant says Oliver "committed this offense while he intended to cause serious bodily injury in an act clearly dangerous to human life."
Balch Springs police said late Friday they did not know about the warrant until it was reported by The Dallas Morning News. In a written statement, the department said it had not been contacted by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office or the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.
Two weeks before the shooting,  Oliver, while off-duty,  pulled out his gun after his truck was rear-ended along South Cockrell Hill Road in Dallas.
"As soon as I put my gear into park, he was already out of his truck, and he was at my window," said Monique Arredondo, 26. "He pulled out his gun on me."
Dressed in plainclothes, he demanded her driver's license, she said. "I'm like, 'You need to put your gun away. There's no need for the gun in my face.'"
Arredondo said her 13-year-old sister was in the back seat. "She's crying, not knowing what's going to happen."
When Dallas police officers arrived, Oliver had his gun holstered on his hip and a police badge clipped to his belt.
"Oliver told officers that at one point he had his gun out in a 'low ready' position and identified himself as a police officer because he believed the other individual may be reaching for a weapon or attempting to flee," Dallas police spokeswoman Debra Webb said in an email. The responding officers "determined that no offense occurred," she said.
Oliver's mother, Linda, told KXAS-TV (NBC5) that he's a "man of strong character."
She also told The New York Times that she'd"raised my kids to give back to the community, and he has."
"He is a very devoted father of two young children, and he is deep in faith."
Before becoming a peace officer in 2010 in Dalworthington Gardens in Tarrant County, Oliver had been on active duty with the Army since 2004. He served two tours in Iraq, from October 2004 to September 2005 and from January to November 2009.
He rose to the rank of sergeant and earned commendations, including a medal for good conduct. He also served in the Texas National Guard until 2012.
Oliver joined the Balch Springs police in 2011, and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records show he received precision rifle training and took a class on the use of force.
He was suspended for 16 hours in 2013 after a complaint from the Dallas County District Attorney's office, according to personnel records obtained by The Associated Press.

The complaint was over his conduct toward people in the office and in court. The prosecutor's office said that in one instance, Oliver was aggressive, using vulgar language that resulted in staff asking a female intern to leave the room. The office said that he later swore when asked a question in the courtroom.
Dallas News

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