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Police announced Tuesday night that Officer Roy Oliver had been fired. Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber made the announcement saying, “After reviewing the findings, I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver’s employment with the Balch Springs Police Department. We will now wait for the independent investigation being conducted by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and the Public Integrity Unit with the District Attorney’s Office to run their course.”
Chief Haber said Oliver violated several department policies in the shooting, but wouldn’t elaborate on the specific violations, citing the now terminated officer’s right to appeal.
Oliver, a six-year veteran with the department, was one of two police officers who responded after complaints were called in about underage kids drinking at a house party Saturday night. Sometime after they arrived gunshots were fired and in the resulting commotion Oliver fired at a car carrying Edwards, his brother and other teens. The Dallas County Medical Examiner later confirmed Edwards died from a rifle shot to the head.
In the official report officers at the scene had said shots were fired after they repeatedly ordered a car backing down a driveway to stop. But during the departmental investigation Chief Haber said video contradicted that information and that the car was driving away from Officer Oliver when he fired his weapon.
Edwards family spokesperson Mercedes Jackson said the initial reports that the boys were backing up toward police “in an aggressive manner” unfairly portrayed the children. “America’s first impression of them was tarnished and it wasn’t true,” she said.
At a press conference Tuesday, Chief Haber took responsibility for the mistake. “That was solely on me. In a rush to get the information out, to be transparent,” he said.
Now that Oliver has been fired, the Edwards family wants him arrested and charged with murder. Jackson said, “Their boy was brutally murdered, violently murdered in front of his brothers.”
The second officer who responded to the scene is still under internal investigation.
Just before the announcement of Oliver’s firing the Texas Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement that said, in part –
“Once again our nation has been gripped with the death of an unarmed African-American teenager after what seemingly appeared to be the aggressive tactics of a law enforcement official. The TLBC will continue to work in Austin and around the state to build healthy relationships between African American and local police departments.
Our prayers are with the family of Jordan Edwards and our hope is his untimely death will not be in vain.”
The Dallas chapter of the NAACP also plans to address community concerns about the Balch Springs shooting during its general meeting.
Members of the Next Generation Action Network met with local and state leaders Wednesday morning, including the Dallas County District Attorney, to discuss how they wanted the case to move forward.
NGAN head Dominique Alexander said, “We want to make sure that the community voices are heard and stand with this family in their time of need, but also that the world and Dallas County knows that this is not an isolated incident.”
During the meeting NGAN member Reverend Jeff Hood said he told Dallas DA Faith Johnson how important it is that her office do all they can in terms of pursuing charges against Oliver. “If there is not an indicted in this case there will be outrage in this community,” he said. “The reason that this keeps on happening in Dallas County and the City of Dallas is because people are staying home and not speaking out. I encourage to community to not rest until there is justice for Jordan Edwards.”