Texan police officer faces murder charge after death of black teenager leaving party

Texan police officer faces murder charge after death of black teenager leaving party

A white Texas police officer faces a murder charge after firing into a car of teenagers leaving a party, killing a black 15-year-old passenger, say authorities.

Roy Oliver turned himself in just hours after a warrant was issued for his arrest by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office over the death of Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, Dallas on April 29.

The warrant was issued based on evidence suggesting Oliver "intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death."

Jordan's family issued a statement saying Oliver's arrest on the murder charge "has brought a bit of a reprieve in a time of intense mourning."

"Although we realise that there remain significant obstacles ahead on the road to justice, this action brings hope that the justice system will bend against the overwhelming weight of our frustration," they said.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said the investigation into the shooting "will continue and does not conclude with the arrest."

Oliver was fired on Tuesday from the police force in Balch Springs.

He had been released after posting bail at the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, about 95 miles west of Dallas, and his bond was set at $300,000.

Jordan and his two brothers and two other teenagers were leaving an unruly house party when Oliver fired on their car with a rifle.

The bullets shattered the front passenger-side window and struck Jordan but it took a few moments for his 16-year-old brother, who was driving, and other passengers to notice that he was slumped over in his seat.

Police had said the car was backing up toward officers "in an aggressive manner," but later said body camera video showed it driving away from the officers.

Jordan's death led to protests calling for Oliver to be fired and charged.

His firing for violating department policies in the shooting came the same day news broke of the Justice Department's decision not to charge two white police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over the shooting death of a black man in 2016.

And a white officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty that day to federal civil rights charges in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2015.

Records show that Oliver was briefly suspended in 2013 after a complaint about his conduct while serving as a witness in a drink-driving case.

Oliver was suspended for 16 hours in December 2013 after the Dallas County District Attorney's Office filed the complaint, according to police personnel records.

He was also ordered to take training courses in anger management and courtroom demeanour and testimony.

The records also included periodic evaluations noting at least one instance when Oliver was reprimanded for being "disrespectful to a civilian on a call."

That evaluation, dated January 27 2017, called the reprimand an isolated incident and urged Oliver to be mindful of his leadership role in the department.

The complaint from the prosecutor's office said the office had a hard time getting Oliver to attend the trial.

He was angry he had to be there, he used vulgar language that caused an assistant district attorney to send a female intern out of the room, and he used profanity during his testimony.

"In an email from one of the prosecutors he states you were a 'scary person to have in our workroom,'" then-Balch Springs police chief Ed Morris wrote in the suspension findings.

Oliver joined the Balch Springs department in 2011 after being an officer with the Dalworthington Gardens Police Department for almost a year.

A statement from Dalworthington Gardens officials included details of that and previous intermittent employment as a dispatcher and public works employee between 1999 and 2004.

He received an award for "meritorious conduct" as a dispatcher and there were no documented complaints or disciplinary action in either his work as a public safety officer or dispatcher, according to the statement.

Oliver was in the US Army between his employment as a dispatcher and officer in the Dallas suburb, rising to the rank of sergeant while serving two tours in Iraq and earning various commendations.

He served for two years in the Texas National Guard reserves through 2012.

After the Dallas County Attorney's Office complained about Oliver's behaviour, Morris suspended the officer for 16 hours, which Oliver completed by forfeiting two sick days.


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