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In Balch Springs, Reaction To Officer's Murder Conviction Is Mixed

LM Otero
Slain teen Jordan Edwards' mother Charmaine Edwards, left, speaks to supporters with son Vidal Allen, right, and husband Odell Edwards during a protest outside the courthouse in Dallas in May 2017.

Many residents in Balch Springs, Texas, haven't been following the trial of Roy Oliver, the white former police officer who was found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black 15-year-old.

But those who have been following the trial have strong opinions about the murder conviction.

Tammy Smoot thinks jurors got it right.

“That man's never going to see his family again just like that baby's not ever going to get to see his,” she said.

The shooting happened after police broke up a house party in April 2017. Oliver fired his gun five times into a moving car carrying five black teenagers while responding to a report of underage drinking at the party in Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb.

Oliver testified that he shot into the car because he thought his police partner’s life was in danger. But his partner had testified that he didn’t fear for his life and never felt the need to shoot. Witnesses said they saw no justification for Oliver to open fire. And prosecutors during the trial argued the former officer had a history of being angry, out of control and "trigger happy.”

In Balch Springs, Billlie Scherzer thinks Oliver should have been acquitted.

"That man shouldn't have been convicted of murder,” she said. “I mean what about the 15-year-old kid at the party at 11 o'clock at night? To me when they're out like that they're up to no good.”

Balch Springs resident Youlanda Jackson is a mother of three. She says what happened to Edwards cast a cloud over the community. It made her hyper-vigilant, and led to tough conversations with her sons.

"Me being a black woman and raising three black boys, we have to raise them different,” Jackson said. “And it's kind of hard to tell them you can't do this because of your skin tone. You might get killed going outside checking the mailbox.”

Clifford Sneed says the story of the white police officer shooting an unarmed black man has been told so many times, he's not sure if this guilty verdict will have enough power to make a difference.

"I just can't really say if it will change anything,” Sneed said. “It's possible, you know, it is possible that it can change. I hope it will."

The one thing it can't change is what happened back in April 2017.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.