Officer who killed black teenager in Texas is fired


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Officer who killed black teenager in Texas is fired

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Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP
Odell Edwards wipes away tears as he sits with his wife, Charmaine Edwards, listening to their attorney Lee Merritt talking about the death of their son, Jordan Edwards, in a police shooting Saturday in Balch Springs, Texas, in Merritt's law office in Dallas, Monday, May 1, 2017. A suburban Dallas police chief said Monday that his department wrongly described why an officer fired into a moving vehicle and killed Jordan Edwards, after an attorney for the boy’s family said officers were trying to “justify the unjustifiable.”

The Texas police officer who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was dismissed on Tuesday. 

Jonathan Haber, chief of the Balch Springs police in suburban Dallas, said he had fired the officer for violating departmental policies, which he did not specify. He identified the ex-officer as Roy Oliver, who had been with the city police since 2011.

Oliver is accused of firing a rifle into a carload of teenagers Saturday night as the vehicle pulled away. The shot struck Jordan, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, in the head. Police said initially that the car was backing toward the officer “in an aggressive manner,” but Haber said police video showed that the vehicle was moving away when the shot was fired.

Jordan, a high school freshman, was black. On Tuesday, the chief declined to disclose Oliver’s race, nor would he release the ex-officer’s disciplinary file, the New York Times reported.

A criminal investigation into the shooting continues. The Dallas County sheriff’s office and the Dallas district attorney are both investigating.

Jordan was shot Saturday night as he and four other teenagers left the scene of a house party at the home of another teen. A neighbor had called police, saying he thought teenagers were drinking at the house.

Jordan’s family said on Tuesday that the teenager’s brothers watched him die. 

"Not only have Jordan's brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless, murder," the statement reads, according to the Dallas Morning News. "Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable, violence." 

The family asked the public to refrain from protests and marches in Jordan's name as they prepare for his funeral, the Morning News said. "We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies." 

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said Monday that police were "offering facts that they believe paint a picture that would justify the unjustifiable."

As Merritt spoke, Jordan’s parents sat next to him, weeping  quietly.  

The attorney later told the Associated Press, "This has happened far too often. We are tired of making the same rhetorical demands, of having the same hashtags." 

Jordan’s community was devastated by his death: he was described as a popular high school freshman with a bright smile and a brighter future.

Jeff Fleener, football coach at Mesquite High School, has only been on the job for two months and doesn’t yet know the names of all 160 players on his teams. But he told the Dallas Morning News that Jordan, who played on the freshman squad, befriended him on his first day. 

"The best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world would happen, and he'd smile, and everything would be OK," Fleener told the Morning News. "You create a checklist of everything you would want in a player, a son, a teammate, a friend, and Jordan had all that. He was that kid."

Fleener’s teams were to have their first day of spring practice Monday, but he called it off and had a team meeting instead.

“It was a hard, hard morning,” he told The Washington Post, “and one of those things they don’t ever prepare you for as a coach.”

Merritt, the attorney, said Jordan’s family wants to see the officer fired and criminally charged. 

The police chief called for time to let authorities complete their investigations. Haber wouldn't identify the officer and didn't release his race, but said he had been "removed from all duties" and placed on leave. 

The officer has been with the force for about six years, Dallas TV station WFAA reported.  

Haber said he was troubled by what he saw. 

"I do have questions in relation to my observation on the video, and what is consistent with the policies and core values of the Balch Springs Police Department," Haber said. 

He wouldn’t release the video or describe it in detail, saying it’s part of the investigation of the shooting, the Associated Press reported.

The original police statement about the shooting said officers responded to a report of "several underage kids drunk walking around," the AP said.  

Merritt said there was no alcohol found in the car and no evidence that the passengers had been drinking.

Note: Commenting for this article is being moderated by AJC editors.

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