Jordan Edwards’ parents both criticized and expressed gratitude for a Dallas County jury’s decision to sentence their 15-year-old son’s killer, ex-Balch Springs Police Department Officer Roy Oliver, to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine last night (August 29). The Dallas Morning News notes that the sentence came one day after jurors convicted the White former cop of murder and acquitted him on two counts of aggravated assault for the fatal 2017 shooting of the unarmed Black teen.
“He can actually see life again after 15 years, and that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again,” his stepmother Charmaigne Edwards said of the sentence, as reported by The Associated Press (The AP). The Morning News quotes her at a post-hearing press conference saying, “Although we wanted more years, this is a start for us, and we can get some kind of closure, so we’re thankful.”
Although prosecutors pushed for a 60-year sentence, Dallas County district attorney Faith Johnson said that she approves of the decision, despite the comparatively short sentence.
“We are very satisfied with the guilty verdict,” she said, according to The Morning News. “We believe that this is historic.”
The conviction and sentence hold little precedent in Texas or other states’ handling of cases where police officers kill unarmed Black children or adults. An investigation by the Texas Tribune found that only seven officers received criminal indictments in 656 police shootings that took place in the state’s 10 largest cities between 2010 and 2015. None of those officers were convicted.
Colorlines previously reported the details of the shooting as follows:
On April 29, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards attended a house party in Balch Springs, a Dallas, Texas, suburb. After hearing gunshots, he and four other teens headed to their car. Moments later, a still unnamed officer with the Balch Springs Police Department shot through a passenger side window and shot the unarmed Black teen in the head. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Yesterday (May 1), the department released an updated statement about the shooting, saying that the vehicle was actually moving forward—away from law enforcement—when the officer shot Edwards, who was in the front passenger seat.
The change in narrative came after Balch Springs police Chief Jonathan Haber watched body camera footage that showed the trajectory of the car. “After reviewing the video,” Haber said at a press conference yesterday (May 1), “I don’t believe that [the shooting] met our core values.”
The Morning News reports that Oliver, the previously unnamed officer, and his attorneys tried to argue that he felt his life was in danger when he shot Edwards. Some of Oliver’s family asked jurors for leniency during court testimony, but his half-sister Wendi Oliver ultimately spoke against him, saying, ”I hope he gets what he deserves. And I feel sorry for what he has done to this boy.”
Odell Edwards has filed a separate and ongoing civil suit against Oliver and the Balch Springs Police Department. He seeks unspecified “answers and compensation for damages and the wrongful death of Jordan Edwards.” In addition, The Morning News reports that Oliver still faces four pending aggravated assault charges: two from the night he killed Edwards and two from a prior, unrelated road rage incident. The district attorney’s office said it will determine whether or not to prosecute these charges.