DALLAS – A white former Dallas-area police officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday night in the murder of unarmed black teenager
Former Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver, 38, was convicted of fatally shooting Jordan Edwards, 15, after responding to the party in Balch Springs on April 29, 2017. Edwards was in a vehicle that was leaving the party when Oliver fired his AK-15 rifle five times into the car, striking Edwards in the head, according to testimony at trial.
The jury deliberated for more than five hours, starting at about 4 p.m. Wednesday after an emotional two days of testimony during the punishment phase of the trial.
The jury found Oliver guilty of murder Tuesday. It was the first murder conviction of police officer in Dallas County since 1973.
When the verdict was read Tuesday, gasps echoed around the courtroom, according to the Associated Press. Edwards’s relatives sobbed and hugged prosecutors, waved their hands in the air and proclaimed “Thank you, Jesus!”
“I just want to say I’m happy, very happy,” Edwards father, Odell Edwards, said outside the courtroom. He said it had “been a long time” since he felt that way.
Oliver testified that he shot at the car because he feared his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, was in danger. Body camera footage showed the car was moving away from the officers, and Gross testified that he wasn’t in fear for his safety.
In the punishment phase, Edwards family and supporters testified Tuesday that he was a good kid with a bright future.
Jeff Fleener, Edwards’ football coach at Mesquite High School, broke down on the stand as he described how Edwards’ football locker has gone untouched since his death.
On Wednesday, Oliver’s mother and wife testified in the case, describing Oliver as a loving father of young boy with autism.
“Consider his son,” Oliver’s mother, Linda Oliver, pleaded to the jury, asking for the minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Oliver’s half-sister, Wendi Oliver, testified against him, saying she hoped “he gets what he deserves because he took an innocent life.”