Cop fired after fatally shooting teen

A police officer has been fired for shooting 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while the teenager rode in a vehicle. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield reports.

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 8:18 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 8:33 PM

When a judge read the guilty verdict in the police shooting of unarmed black teen Jordan Edwards in Texas, the victim's family gasped and sobbed.

"Thank you Jesus," someone muttered as relatives embraced in the packed courtroom Tuesday.

After hours of deliberations, a jury had found Roy Oliver guilty of murder in last year's shooting death of the 15-year-old in a Dallas suburb.

The sentencing phase started after the verdict, and continued into Wednesday afternoon. The jury was deliberating about Oliver's fate on Wednesday evening.

'This case is not just about Jordan'

The rare guilty verdict in the trial of a police officer stunned relatives. Most police-involved shooting deaths, such as Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, have ended in acquittals or no charges despite national protests condemning police brutality.

"We don't want another parent to have to go through what this family has had to deal with," Jordan's family attorney, Daryl Washington, said. "This case is not just about Jordan. It's about Tamir Rice, it's about Walter Scott, it's about Alton Sterling, it's about every African-American... who have been killed and who have not gotten justice."

Oliver, who is white, fired at a vehicle Jordan was in, striking the teen. A Dallas County jury convicted him of murder but found him not guilty of two lesser charges of aggravated assault and manslaughter, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.

Private party turns deadly

Jordan's family said he was at a private party with his two brothers and two friends on the night of April 29 last year when someone announced that police had been dispatched. The group headed to the car.

Around 11 p.m., Oliver and another officer responded to the home after reports of underage drinking. While in the residence searching for the homeowner, they heard what they believed were gunshots nearby, police said.

One officer went to the area where he heard the gunshots, and Oliver went to his squad car and retrieved his patrol rifle, according to an arrest warrant issued by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.

The officer who was with Oliver saw a Chevrolet Impala reversing and repeatedly ordered it to stop. He then approached the vehicle from the passenger side with his weapon drawn, police said.

The vehicle stopped, then slowly moved forward as the officer punched the passenger door window, breaking it, the arrest warrant said.

Oliver discharged multiple rounds from his patrol rifle as the vehicle drove past him, the arrest warrant said. One bullet struck Jordan, who was a passenger in the car.

In a lawsuit, Jordan's father said neither the teen nor his group posed a threat to the officers' safety.

Body camera footage likely helped in conviction

Police body camera footage likely played a crucial role in the conviction.

After the shooting, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber initially said the car Jordan was riding in was moving aggressively toward police -- leading Oliver to fire his rifle.

But days later, Haber said he misspoke, adding that body camera footage showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers -- not reversing toward them.

Haber fired Oliver shortly afterward.

Body cameras have mixed reviews

Calls for police body cameras have grown as incidents of police brutality make headlines nationwide, with dozens of major police departments nationwide using them to provide transparency and accountability.

But studies on the effects of body cameras have uncovered mixed results, with recent controversies in Baltimore showing what appears to be officers allegedly planting evidence, highlighting that even such footage can be a source of controversy.

Convictions such as Oliver's are still a rarity mostly because when an officer says the person flashed a gun or made a sudden move, jurors tend to side with them, said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"At the end of day, officers in their badge and uniform enjoy the benefit of the doubt," Clarke said last year.

"Unless we start holding officers accountable for using deadly force in a reckless manner, I think it will be very difficult to see changes in the use of lethal force at the outset."

'This innocent kid was not doing anything wrong'

Prosecutors told jurors that Jordan did not deserve to die.

"This innocent kid was not doing anything wrong, nothing," prosecutor Mike Snipes said, according to KTVT.

Jordan's fatal shooting was one of several recent deaths of African-American men at the hands of police, which have sparked national protests and a debate on police conduct.

Few police officers face trial in shooting deaths, and even fewer are convicted.

In December, former South Carolina officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in the 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. Slager's 2016 state murder trial ended in a mistrial.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2012806

Reported Deaths: 51732
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings26711410025
Queens2656739604
Suffolk1945123323
Nassau1782353121
Bronx1760716405
New York1330424342
Westchester1262782246
Erie835241718
Richmond713901760
Monroe617161036
Orange46388782
Rockland45849946
Onondaga36254663
Dutchess28147438
Albany23800347
Oneida21556498
Niagara18486335
Broome17559348
Saratoga14517163
Ulster13159244
Schenectady12471193
Rensselaer10745136
Putnam1027491
Chautauqua8459137
Chemung7209133
Oswego703490
Ontario693992
Steuben6355142
St. Lawrence624695
Sullivan621070
Cayuga591590
Jefferson548765
Wayne530467
Cattaraugus521382
Genesee5102121
Herkimer4946107
Clinton458233
Madison432186
Fulton412288
Tompkins407749
Livingston403858
Montgomery3923117
Columbia3848100
Cortland356960
Tioga345058
Warren341856
Wyoming328251
Otsego322147
Allegany320483
Greene315674
Chenango313874
Washington287955
Orleans280183
Lewis248134
Franklin241312
Delaware219537
Seneca188956
Schoharie156816
Essex150826
Yates111226
Schuyler99314
Hamilton3012
Unassigned13864
Out of NY0218
Rome
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 23°
Binghamton
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 20°
Rome
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 23°
Rome
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 23°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!