Police Officer Roy Oliver Found Guilty For the Murder of Jordan Edwards
On the second day of deliberations, a Dallas jury found police officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder. Oliver was found not guilty on two aggravated assault charges.
This was one heck of a trial.
Roy Oliver is the former Balch Springs, Texas officer charged with murder and two counts of aggravated battery by a public servant. I first blogged about this case in May 2017 when Roy Oliver was charged for the April 29, 2017 incident. His trial began on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
To summarize, Oliver and his partner were called about an under-aged drinking party. However, no alcohol or drugs were found. While in the house where the party was taking place, gunshots were heard outside. (It was subsequently determined that the shots were unrelated to the party.)
Jordan Edwards, 15 years old, was at the party with friends and relatives. When the police showed up, they decided to leave and went to the car. They were trying to drive away when Oliver and his partner ran outside after hearing the gunshots. Oliver used his service rifle and fired at least 5 shots into the car where Jordan was a passenger. Jordan was shot in the head.
Oliver’s story was that the car was driving in reverse, trying to run over his partner. Video shows that the car was actually going forward away from the officers.
It was discovered that Jordan had gunshot residue on his hand, but it was subsequently decided that it was transferred onto Jordan by Oliver who, after shooting Jordan, checked him for a pulse. No gun was found on Jordan, nor in the car in which he was a passenger.
Over 200 potential jurors showed up to the Central Jury Room at the Dallas County Courthouse. They were given a 20-page questionnaire about race, police officers and use of force. I was unable to find a report of the makeup of the jury panel, and tweeted to a reporter covering the trial to see if that information can be made public. I did not receive a response.
It was an intense trial with numerous witnesses. I will post the videos for each day of trial in the comment section below. When sentencing is announced, I will post that also in the comment section.
The first day of trial began with opening statements by Dallas County First Assistant District Attorney Michael Snipes.
“Police officers have very dangerous jobs. They have to make split-second decisions. They have to make decisions that are extremely important. We stand beside police officers every single day in this courthouse. … Some of my best friends are police officers, and I’m proud to serve with them, but that is not what happened the night of April 29, 2017.”
Oliver is represented by attorney Bob Gill, who elected to save his opening statement until after the prosecution rests its case.
Oliver’s partner testified at trial that he was not in fear that the car was going to hit him when Oliver opened fire. Prosecutors called a forensic video expert to the stand. Analyst Grant Fredericks showed jurors his breakdown of the footage taken from police officers’ body cameras at the scene of the shooting that killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last April.
“We can see the lens of the rear light. Therefore, the vehicle is past the officer and is moving away from the officer at this point,” Fredericks explained. Prosecutor Michael Snipes asked if the vehicle was past the officer before the first shot was fired. “Correct. Yes, he is behind the vehicle,” Fredericks answered.”
Roy Oliver testified in his own defense and said that he had no other option but to open fire. His attorney Bob Gill told the jury, “It doesn’t matter that looking back in hindsight we’d all make a different decision.” He said that the only perspective the jury should base their verdict on is Oliver’s.
Oliver faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison on the murder charge. The sentencing phase began immediately. As of the publishing of this post, 6 of Jordan’s former teachers have addressed the court.
Prosecutors say they support police officers but that cops like Oliver need to be held accountable for their bad actions. “They have to follow the law just like everybody else,” said prosecutor George Lewis.
Oliver has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault related to an April 2017 accident that happened while he was off-duty. Those charges are pending. The accident happened two weeks before Oliver fatally shot Jordan. A grand jury returned a true bill to charge Oliver in that case.
Oliver was hired in 2011. In 2013, he was suspended and required to take anger management classes after having erupted in a courtroom. He was angry because he had to attend court.
The reading of the verdict;