Dallas

Balch Springs police officer charged with murder in fatal shooting of black teen

This undated family photo provided by Edwards family attorney Lee Merritt shows Jordan Edwards, left, posing for a photo with his father, Odell Edwards.
This undated family photo provided by Edwards family attorney Lee Merritt shows Jordan Edwards, left, posing for a photo with his father, Odell Edwards. AP

A former police officer wanted for murder turned himself in to the Parker County Jail on Friday following the issuance of an arrest warrant, according to a Parker County official.

Roy Oliver, who was fired Tuesday by the Balch Springs police chief, is accused of shooting an unarmed African-American teen who was a passenger in a moving car.

According to Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler, Oliver turned himself into Parker County authorities Friday and was released from jail. Oliver was released after posting a $300,000 bond, according to jail records. A Dallas judge had signed the arrest warrant Friday charging Oliver in connection with the death of Jordan Edwards, 15, according to WFAA.

“The warrant was issued due to evidence that suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of an individual,” read a statement from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

The white officer’s shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager has renewed allegations nationwide that racial bias among police has led to deadly overreactions.

He was fired Tuesday for violating department policies.

Lee Merritt, one of the attorneys representing the Edwards family, issued a statement Friday that said that although the announcement of the arrest warrant does not take away the pain caused by Edwards’ death, it has brought a bit of a reprieve in a time of intense mourning.

“Although we realize that there remain significant obstacles ahead on the road to justice, this action brings hope that the justice system will bend against the overwhelming weight of our frustration,” the statement said.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has been investigating the shooting Saturday night in which Oliver, who is white, fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving an unruly party, striking and killing Edwards. He was riding with his two brothers and two other teenagers in Balch Springs.

Personnel records from the Balch Springs Police Department show Oliver was suspended for 16 hours in December 2013 after the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office filed a complaint about his conduct when he was a witness in a drunken-driving case.

The personnel records also included periodic evaluations that noted at least one instance when Oliver was reprimanded for being “disrespectful to a civilian on a call.” That evaluation, dated Jan. 27, 2017, called the reprimand an isolated incident and urged Oliver to be mindful of his leadership role in the department.

Oliver joined the Balch Springs department in 2011 after being an officer with the Dalworthington Gardens Police Department for almost a year. A statement from Dalworthington Gardens officials late Wednesday included some details of that and previous intermittent employment as a dispatcher and public works employee between 1999 and 2004.

Top Texas Democrats called on Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, to work to discourage shootings by police. Several such proposals have stalled in the Legislature.

Democrats took issue with Abbott’s muted response to Edward’s death, especially given his more spirited response to subsequent stabbings at the University of Texas and the shooting of a Dallas paramedic.

This story contains information from the Star-Telegram archives and The Associated Press.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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