DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After nearly 13 hours of deliberations, a Dallas County jury found former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver guilty in the murder of Jordan Edwards.
Oliver was found not guilty of the lesser charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault.READ MORE: Gardening 101: Seed Bombs
Edwards’ family rejoiced in hugs and tears after the judge read the guilty verdict.
Someone was heard saying, “Thank you Jesus” after the verdict.
“I just want to say I’m happy. It’s been a hard year. I’m just really happy,” said Jordan’s father Odell Edwards. “We are just happy in Dallas that Roy Oliver is going to have to do his time for Jordan. What he did on that night should’ve never happened, and we’re happy we got justice today.”
“Odell and I were talking and we said we don’t want another parent to have to go through what this family has had to deal with,” said Edwards’ family attorney Daryl Washington. “This case just isn’t about Jordan, it’s Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, for every African American who didn’t get justice.”
WATCH THE READING OF THE VERDICT HERE:
Oliver now faces five to 99 years in prison.
The punishment phase began about 30 minutes after the judge read the verdict. It will continue at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Governor Greg Abbott reacted to the verdict saying on Twitter, “This life should never have been lost,” referring to Edwards.
Sharon Watkins Jones, political strategies director for the ACLU of Texas, had this reaction:READ MORE: Anna Police Investigating Crash That Killed 22-Year-Old Man
“We rely on police officers to keep us safe and to use their powers judiciously and fairly. There is a long history in this country of failing to hold law enforcement responsible for even the gravest abuses of power. The prosecution of Roy Oliver and today’s guilty verdict send a powerful message: Roy Oliver’s actions were murder, and he will be held accountable.”
Sara Mokura of Mothers Against Police Brutality said of the verdict, “It sends a message to other officers, it also sends a message to DA’s: you need to try these cases… It is a signal that there can be and will be accountability for police officers when they do wrong in our communities.”
The Dallas NAACP issued the following statement Tuesday evening:
“While our hearts are still heavy in thinking about the premature loss of such a phenomenal young man, we are thankful the jury rendered a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Roy Oliver. Immediately following the tragic murder of Jordan Edwards, we demanded that Roy Oliver be tried in a court of law and be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Today, that happened and Roy Oliver was convicted of murdering Jordan Edwards, thus, robbing him of all of the promise and potential that was in store for him. We continue to pray for the family of Jordan Edwards and stand in solidarity with the community in wrapping our arms around the family and friends of Jordan Edwards as they bring closure to this part of their journey for justice for Jordan.”
Closing arguments wrapped up Monday.
Jurors heard emotional closing arguments from Oliver’s defense attorneys and prosecutors. The opposing sides painted two very different pictures of the former police officer: one of a protector, another of a murderer.
During closing arguments Dallas County prosecutors told the jury Jordan Edwards did not deserve to die.
The 15-year-old, high school freshman was in the front passenger seat of a car full of teens that were driving away from a party in April of 2017, when Oliver fired a rifle at the car.
After the shooting Oliver lost his job with the Balch Springs Police Department and was later indicted by a grand jury.
“This innocent kid was not doing anything wrong, nothing. He deserved the opportunity to go to college,” prosecutor Mike Snipes said. “He deserved the opportunity to make Odell Edwards a grandfather, and you took that away from him. You murdered him.”MORE NEWS: Texas Joins Oklahoma's Effort To Overturn McGirt
Oliver’s defense team countered that their client shot out of fear for his partner’s safety. Attorney Jim Lane told jurors, “This case boils down to a shoot or no shoot situation. We have to look at it from the eyes of this officer, the moment he made that decision.”