There was no reason for Balch Springs, Tex., officer Roy Oliver to open fire at a car filled with teenagers trying to leave a party last Saturday, killing one of the passengers, and that’s why he was fired. At the same time, the family of the victim, Jordan Edwards, is calling for criminal charges against in a case that has added to what seems like a grim fraternity of Black males killed at the hands of police.
Police chief Jonathan Haber cited department policy violations for the termination on Tuesday, without specifying exactly what those violations were. He also said Oliver, a six-year veteran of the department, can appeal the termination. “After reviewing the findings I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver’s employment with the Balch Springs Police Department,” Haber told reporters at a press conference. “My department will continue to be responsive, transparent and accountable.”
The department’s account of what happened in the shooting changed after Haber admitted Monday that a car full of teens was driving away from police when an officer armed with a rifle fatally shot the teenager in the head. Haber’s initial account said the teen behind the wheel at first backed down the street but was fleeing the scene when the officer opened fire.
Meanwhile, the Dallas suburb is still reeling over the death of Edwards, 15, a high school freshman who was with his brothers and leaving an event where police were responding to gunshots they heard while investigating a call. Although Edwards family is glad Oliver was terminated, they still say “there remains a long road ahead” and believe he should be arrested for murder, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“After Jordan’s two brothers, Vidal and Kevon, along with their two friends, were forced to experience this tragedy up close as occupants of the car, they were immediately treated as common criminals by other officers; manhandled, intimidated and arrested, while their brother lay dying in the front seat,” the family said in a statement. “The officers who extended this nightmare for those children ought to be properly reprimanded.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Edwards’ family said one of his brothers was held by police overnight, but police said later he was only held as a witness for questioning. The others in the car were not detained.
The family has asked activists to postpone demonstrations in the wake of Edwards’ death as they make preparations for his funeral and spoke out against any violence perpetuated against police officers.
The Dallas County district attorney’s public integrity unit, and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department are reviewing the case.It is unclear if there will be criminal charges against Oliver. His attorney Cindy Stormer released a statement of her own saying Oliver is not commenting right now.”The incident is recent and still being investigated. Everyone should wait until the facts come out and we know more.”