Ex-Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver Found Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of Jordan Edwards | KERA News

Ex-Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver Found Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of Jordan Edwards

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Ex-Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been found guilty in the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards after police broke up a house party last year.

Oliver, 38, was found not guilty Tuesday on the two counts of aggravated assault tied to the incident. All three verdicts were unanimous. 

Jury deliberations began just before noon Monday after closing arguments. Dallas County jurors deliberated for over eight hours, reconvened around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday and reached a verdict just before 2 in the afternoon. Ten women — five white, two black and three Hispanic — and two white men made up the jury. Judge Brandon Birmingham oversaw the trial, held in the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas.

In April 2017, Oliver, who is white, fired his gun 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. Edwards, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was fatally shot in the head.

Shortly after the incident, Oliver was fired from the department, which he had joined in 2011. He was also charged with the Mesquite high school freshman's murder.

The Balch Springs shooting is one of several controversial police shootings of black men, teenagers and boys that have grabbed national headlines in the last several years. It’s rare that a case like this makes it to court. Indictments of police officers in Dallas County have become more common in recent years, but not convictions. 

Earlier in the trial 

Oliver took the stand Thursday, saying he shot into the car because he thought his police partner’s life was in danger. But, his police partner, Tyler Gross, previously testified that he didn’t fear for his life and never felt the need to shoot. 

Oliver testified that while he was in the house, he heard gunshots outside, leading him to believe there was an active shooter. It was later determined that the shots were fired near a nursing home in the area. And it was later reported that no teenagers were drinking or using drugs at the party. Investigators also said no guns were found in the teens' vehicle.

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.”

Oliver testified it was "very sickening" when he learned he had killed Edwards. "I was in shock for days," he said.

Following the shooting, Balch Springs police first said the vehicle carrying the teenagers backed up toward officers "in an aggressive manner." But police later reported that video showed the car was moving forward as officers approached.

In June 2017, Oliver was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant in an unrelated incident that happened two weeks before Edwards’ death. Jurors on Friday heard testimony from the woman involved in the earlier incident. She testified Oliver pointed a gun at her after she rear ended his car. The woman’s sister also testified that Oliver pointed the gun and described him as raging.

Oliver, who said he was driving with his wife and young son at the time, testified he held his firearm up against his chest during the encounter.

Testimony concluded Friday. The trial began Aug. 16. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.