Texas cop who fatally shot 15-year-old has been fired, police say
The officer who fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, Texas, on Saturday has been fired, police said at a press conference this evening.
Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber identified that officer as Roy Oliver and said he had been a member of the police department since 2011.
The announcement of the officer’s dismissal was welcomed by the Edwards family. “We are grateful the decision has been made to terminate the office responsible for Jordan’s murder,” a family statement read. “Over the past 24 hours Chief Haber has made commendable strides toward justice. However, there remains a long road ahead.”
The incident in question took place Saturday evening as police were responding to a report of “several underage kids” who were allegedly drunk at a residence in Balch Springs. Police initially said that Edwards was in a vehicle that backed up in the direction of the responding officers “in an aggressive manner.” Oliver then opened fire, striking Edwards, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Authorities later admitted, however, that they had misspoken in recounting what occurred and that it appeared as though the vehicle Edwards was in was driving away from the officers when shots were fired, based on body cam footage.
“I unintentionally, incorrectly said the vehicle was backing down the road,” Haber said Monday. “According to the video, the vehicle was moving forward as the officer approached.”
Haber added, “After reviewing the video, I don’t believe that [the shooting] met our core values.”
In an updated press release this evening, police clarified that the vehicle was initially backing down the street, “and despite multiple verbal commands from the officer, the vehicle continued to reverse, backing into the main roadway.”
The press release continued: “The vehicle then pulled forward as the officer continued to approach the vehicle giving verbal commands. The vehicle continued on the main roadway driving away from the officer.”
The release added: “It has been determined Roy Oliver … violated several departmental policies.”
Police said they could not elaborate on which policies were violated as Oliver can appeal his termination.
The footage of the incident is not yet public and there is no timeline for its release.
Police said this evening the district attorney’s office will decide whether Oliver faces charges in the shooting.
Earlier in the day, Edwards’ family said their only desire is is to seek justice in the teen’s death.
In a statement released by the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, on Tuesday, Edwards was described as 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.
According to Merritt, Edwards 16-year-old brother was driving the car and at first was unaware that his brother had been hit and “attempted to get away from the gunshots.”
Once Edwards’ brother discovered that the 15-year-old had been shot, he flagged down another squad car that passed by them, Merritt told ABC News Monday evening. He added that it took about 10 to 15 minutes for the teen to receive any medical attention.
The family’s statement said Edwards’ brothers lost their best friend.
“Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable violence,” the family said.
“While our family attempts to cope with our loss, we ask that at this time the community please refrain from protests and marches in Jordan’s and our family’s name as we prepare for his funeral,” the family’s statement continued. “We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies.”
Describing their tragic loss as “inescapable,” Edwards’ family added, “What we desire, only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is justice for Jordan.”
According to ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA, the Dallas County Medical Examiner has ruled Edwards’ death a homicide. The cause of death was listed as a rifle wound to the head.
Haber has vowed to be “transparent” and “accountable” in his department’s investigation.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County Integrity Unit are conducting a separate investigation into the incident.
ABC News’ Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.