The Balch Springs, Tex., police officer who shot and killed Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black high school freshman, has been fired after an internal affairs investigation concluded he violated multiple department policies, officials announced Tuesday night.
Officials identified the officer as Roy Oliver and said he had been with the department since July 2011.
“After reviewing the findings I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver’s employment with the Balch Springs Police Department,” chief Jonathan Haber told reporters Tuesday evening. “My department will continue to be responsive, transparent and accountable.”
The shooting occurred around 11 p.m. Saturday evening, after officers got a call concerning intoxicated teenagers and arrived to find a house party. Department spokesman Pedro Gonzalez said that while officers were inside the house, they heard gunshots outside.
Officers left the house and saw a vehicle backing into the street, Gonzalez said. Officers yelled for the driver to stop, but the vehicle began pulling forward to drive away. Police opened fire and a single bullet struck and killed Edwards, who was riding in the passenger seat.
Police initially said that the vehicle reversed “aggressively” at the approaching officers, but they later retracted that statement and said that body camera video showed that the vehicle was driving away from officers when Oliver opened fire.
“It has been determined that Roy Oliver, who was the second officer on the scene, violated several departmental policies,” Gonzalez said. He did not specify which policies had been violated.
Edwards is the youngest of the 333 people shot and killed by police so far in 2017, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. At least 10 people shot and killed by police this year were under 18.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are conducting their own investigation of the shooting.
Oliver has the right to appeal his termination. His attorney, Cindy Stormer, called for patience in a statement provided to the Dallas Morning News.
“The incident is recent and still being investigated,” she said. “Everyone should wait until the facts come out and we know more.”
Edwards’s family members said in a statement they were grateful Oliver had been fired but added that there “remains a long road ahead.” They said they wanted to see Oliver charged with murder and argued that the other officers at the scene should face discipline as well.
“The magnitude of his horrible actions cannot be overstated. We fully expect an equivalent response from those responsible for investigating and punishing the crime,” the statement read. “Our family is working hard to deal with both the loss of our beloved Jordan and the lingering trauma it has caused our boys.”
The night he was killed, Edwards was with his two brothers and two other teenage boys at a house party in the suburban Dallas community, according to the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt.
When the group learned that police were on their way, they went to their car to leave, Merritt told The Post on Sunday night. They saw flashlights outside and heard gunshots, followed by somebody yelling profanities, Merritt said. As they drove away, Oliver opened fire on them with his rifle, striking Edwards through the passenger window.
The boys fled for about a block before they saw smoke coming from Edwards’s head, Merritt said. Edwards’s 16-year-old brother, who was driving, stopped and flagged down a police cruiser for help.
Edwards was pronounced dead at the hospital. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said he was killed by a rifle wound to the head.
None of the teenagers in the car had been drinking at the party, and they were not charged with any crimes, according to Merritt.
After reviewing body camera footage from the incident, Haber, the police chief, told reporters that he did not believe the shooting “met our core values.” He said he “misspoke” when he gave his initial account of the vehicle driving away, and questioned whether the shooting was necessary.
Friends and family members described Edwards, who was a freshman at Mesquite High School, as a model student who was well liked by his teachers and peers. He played on the school’s football team and was set to start as a defensive back in the spring season.
As outrage over the shooting spread on social media Tuesday, Edwards’s family urged people not to protest or march in his name, and said they did not condone violence or threats against law enforcement.
“Jordan was a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit. The bond that he shared with his family, particularly his siblings, was indescribable,” the family said in a statement. “No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable violence.”