Dallas, TX – A jury convicted a former Balch Springs police officer of murder on Tuesday for the 2017 on-duty shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
Ex-Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver, 38, was fired from the department just days after he fired a rifle into a carload of five teens while they were leaving a house party on Apr. 29, 2017, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The round hit Edwards, who was riding in the front passenger seat, killing him.
The incident occurred at approximately 11 p.m., after police received a report of underage drinking at a rowdy house party, FOX News reported.
Oliver and Officer Tyler Gross responded to the area to break up the party, and bodycam footage showed them joking with some of the teens leaving the residence as they approached, according to The Dallas Morning News.
While the officers were inside the house, they heard gunfire coming from the area of a nearby nursing home, and rushed outside.
Oliver stopped to grab his patrol rifle, then joined Officer Gross as they ran towards the area the shots had come from.
He then saw Officer Gross trying to stop a Chevrolet Impala that Edwards was riding in.
Edwards’ brother, Vidal Allen, testified that he was driving the vehicle and heard someone yelling for him to stop, but said he didn’t know the person issuing the command was an officer.
He denied that he attempted to hit Officer Gross with the car.
During the trial, Oliver testified that the vehicle was about to drive into Officer Gross, and that he had no choice but to open fire to protect his partner, FOX News reported.
But Officer Gross said he didn’t feel that the driver was planning to mow him down with the vehicle, and was standing to the side of the car as it drove forward, according to The Dallas Morning News.
"I was in fear that the vehicle was close to me, but not in fear that the vehicle was trying to run me over,” Officer Gross testified.
As the car continued to move forward, Officer Gross again told Allen to stop, then shattered the rear passenger window by hitting it with his weapon.
Oliver then opened fire.
During the trial, a video expert testified that the first two rounds were fired after the car had passed by Officer Gross.
After the vehicle also passed by Oliver, he fired three more rounds, the expert said.
"None of those shots could've done anything to protect Tyler Gross," prosecutor Michael Snipes told the jury, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Oliver’s attorney, Bob Gill, argued that Oliver’s perception and mindset at the time he used deadly force was the only issue the jury should use in determining a verdict – and that Oliver believed he was saving his partner’s life.
"It doesn't matter that looking back in hindsight we'd all make a different decision," Gill said.
However, Oliver's perception and mindset also need to be examined for reasonableness. A perception that Edwards was a threat would still leave Oliver culpable if another reasonable officer, with the same training and experience, would not have considered Edwards to be a threat.
The jury deliberated both Monday and Tuesday, and on several occasions asked additional questions about Oliver’s testimony and actions.
They also had the option to convict Oliver of manslaughter, but ultimately found him guilty of murder.
Oliver was found not guilty on two additional counts of aggravated assault.
After the verdict was read, Oliver’s wife, Ingrid, left the courtroom in tears. The couple also has a 3-year-old autistic son.
"This was a long-fought battle," attorney Daryl Washington, who is representing Edwards' family in a civil lawsuit, told FOX News. "We are just happy ... that Roy Oliver is gonna have to do his time for taking Jordan's life. What he did on that night should have never happened."
"It's about Tamir Rice. It's about Walter Scott. It's about Alton Sterling," Washington said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "It's about every, every African-American, unarmed African-American, who has been killed and who has not gotten justice."
Walter Scott's killer, Michael Slager, was sentenced for 20 years in prison.
Alton Sterling was justifiably shot while attempting to murder two police officers who confronted him for threatening somebody with his gun.
A grand jury cleared the officer for the shooting of Tamir Rice, although it was determined after the shooting that his gun was a toy.
Edwards’ father, Odell Edwards, said he could barely restrain himself from jumping with joy when he heard the verdict.
"I just want to say I'm happy, very happy," he said. “It's been a long time, hard year. Just really happy."
The prosecution’s testimony phase of the sentencing proceedings began immediately upon the conclusion of the trial, WFAA reported.
The defense’s testimony is slated for Wednesday.
He faces up to life in prison.
Determining the length of Oliver’s sentence will be left in the hands of the jury.