On-duty police shootings: How rare are convictions in Texas?

Tuesday’s murder conviction of former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver is a rarity.

Few law enforcers make it to trial, or are convicted for on-duty shooting deaths, research shows. Oliver’s conviction marked the first time since 1973 that an on-duty officer in Texas was convicted of killing someone in a shooting.

“There are unknown unknowns,” Philip Stinson of Bowling Green State University in Ohio wrote in a research paper last year. “Police crime is largely a hidden crime (no official data available).”

In Oliver’s case, a Dallas County jury found the former officer guilty of murder in the death of Jordan Edwards, a black 15-year-old who was unarmed when Oliver shot him last year.

“Extremely rare,” attorney Exavier Pope tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Stinson’s research shows there are about 1,000 police shootings every year across the country.

And between 2005 and mid-2017, about 35 percent of the officers arrested for fatal on-duty shootings were convicted on manslaughter or murder charges.

The rest were not convicted or their cases are still pending, according to Stinson’s research.

Here’s a look at a few of those cases:

Last year, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man. That verdict sparked violent protests in St. Louis.

In 2014, New York police officer Peter Liang was convicted of official misconduct and manslaughter in the deadly shooting of Akai Gurley. A judge later changed the conviction to criminally negligent homicide and sentenced the former officer to probation and community service.

In 2014, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was no-billed by a grand jury after fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, a dozen times.

In 2016, Baton Rouge police officers Howie Lake II and Blane Salamoni learned there wasn’t enough evidence to federally prosecute them in the deadly shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, outside a convenience store.

In 2016, a mistrial was declared in the case of North Charleston police officer Michael Slager’s shooting and killing of Walter Scott, 50, who was running away after being stopped for a broken brake light.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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