Police Excuse for Infamous Shooting of Black Teenager Jordan Edwards Turns Out to Be a Fabrication

Human Rights

A house party in late April in a small Texas suburb resulted in the fatal shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teenager who was leaving the party. Edwards, 15, died instantly when an officer fired multiple shots from a rifle into the front window of a car occupied by Edwards, his brother and two friends.

Following the incident, officers claimed there had been alcohol at the party, though did not cite any source to corroborate their claims. Now Dallas News reports that an anonymous law enforcement official said there was no alcohol present at the party, and the autopsy report reveals Edwards had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system when he was killed.

This was not the only false claim officers made about the incident. Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber initially claimed that Roy Oliver, the officer who shot and killed Edwards, “fired his rifle into the vehicle because the driver was aggressively backing up toward the officers.” However, body camera footage shows that the car was moving forward at the time.

Police arrived at the house in Balch Springs, located right outside Dallas, in response to a 911 complaint regarding a party in the neighborhood. As officers arrived on the scene and proceeded to break up the party, they reported hearing what they thought were gunshots. When officers ran outside to survey the scene, Edwards, his brother and two friends got into a car to leave the party. While they were attempting to leave, Officer Tyler Gross approached the vehicle and ordered them to stop, smashing one of the windows with his gun. Oliver then fired multiple shots into the passenger side window, striking Edwards in the head and killing him.

Roy Oliver was later fired and charged with murder, and the case has yet to be heard by a Dallas County grand jury. Personnel records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by NBC News reveal that Oliver has a history of aggression and issues with anger. According to a 2013 internal disciplinary report, Oliver “failed to comply with the Balch Springs Code of Ethics” when he became angry and starting spewing profanities during a court interaction. He was suspended for 16 hours and ordered to attend anger management classes and training in courtroom demeanor.

In addition, Oliver had been indicted on two aggravated assault charges for a road rage incident that took place two weeks before the party. A woman reported that Oliver had pulled his gun on her when she rear-ended him while he was off-duty. First Assistant District Attorney Michael Snipes has called Oliver a danger to the community.

Jordan Edwards is one of 148 black people killed by police in 2017, according to Mapping Police Violence. He was the 156th person shot and killed by police in 2017. As of June 29, the Washington Post's police shooting tracker counts 484 people shot and killed by law enforcement so far this year.

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