DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After spending the night in jail, now convicted former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver is back in a Dallas courtroom today, waiting to learn his punishment.
On Tuesday, after 13 hours of deliberations, a jury unanimously found him guilty of the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
During testimony today people who say they know Oliver best – co-workers and friends – painted a picture of a man who is well-loved and respected in the community.
About a half-a-dozen people who know Oliver are expected to testify. So far, defense attorneys for Oliver have called two apartment managers, a fellow police officer, and a soccer player the former officer mentored, to testify on his behalf.
Billie Gorwood, who once had Oliver as a tenant, begged the jury for leniency. “He wants to help and he wants to protect. And this tragedy has gone against everything, everything that Roy believes in.”
The teenager’s stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, took the stand after the verdict was read Tuesday. “It’s just trying to get through life without him now, and it’s hard because he had a promising future,” she said.
Jordan was an honor roll student and athlete who was nicknamed “Smiley.” It was in April of 2017 when the teenager was killed after Oliver fired five shots into the car he was riding in. One of those rounds struck Jordan in the head. He died at the scene.
During the trial Oliver testified that he opened fire because he believed the car Jordan was riding in was a threat to his partner. But in addition to seeing body camera footage from the night of the shooting, jurors heard from Oliver’s partner, Tyler Gross, who said he never discharged his weapon because he never felt like he was in danger.
After the verdict the attorney representing the Edwards family, Daryl K. Washington, said, “This case is not just about Jordan [Edwards], it’s about Tamir Rice, it’s about Walter Scott, it’s about Alton Sterling. It’s about every, every African-American, unarmed African-American who has been killed and who has not gotten justice.”
Tuesday was a very emotional day for the Edwards family, who said the guilty verdict brings a sense of justice and peace. When Charmaine Edwards took the stand she told the jury the rare guilty verdict against a police officer sends a message that others should hear. “I’m forever grateful that y’all seen [sic] in your hearts to see that it was wrong… and I’m thankful,” she said. “Because for once, I mean it doesn’t bring Jordan back, but we have some kind of closure.”
Roy Oliver, who was found not guilty on two lesser charges of aggravated assault stemming from the shooting, faces a sentence between five years and life in prison for the murder.
Members of the Edwards family spoke with CBS 11 News on Wednesday and said they believe Oliver needs to spend the rest of his life in prison because that is what’s right.