BALCH SPRINGS, Texas - The Balch Springs police officer who shot and killed a 15-year-old boy leaving a party over the weekend has been fired.
During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Police Chief Jonathan Haber announced Officer Roy Oliver was fired after he "violated several department policies" when he shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. He said it is now up to the district attorney to determine whether the officer will be charged and prosecuted.
The Mesquite High School freshman was in a car with friends when he was shot Saturday night. Police first said the vehicle he was in was aggressively backing towards officers. But the medical examiner determined Jordan Edwards was shot in the head from the side and video from an officer’s body camera showed the car was going away from the officer who fired shots.
Haber says Oliver had been on the force since 20011. He declined to say why Oliver was fired beyond that he "violated several departmental policies."
The chief explained Oliver and another officer went to investigate a call about underage teens drinking at a house party on Baron Drive while investigating they heard gunfire outside.
Originally, the story they told was that a vehicle was backing towards them in an aggressive manner, prompting Oliver to fire his rifle into the car where 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was struck in the head. But once Police Chief Haber says he saw the officer's body camera video, it was clear to him that's not what happened. The car was moving away from Oliver when he fired, and he says he did not get all the facts that he should have before going public.
"That was solely on me in a rush to get the information out to be transparent," Haber said. "Because it's important for us to be transparent and to be responsible to our community partners. I missed a step."
Chief Haber was flanked by two community activists at the news conference, Ernest Walker and Rev. Ronald Wright.
"We get these type of incidents that happen all over the United States," Wright said. "Balch Springs has reacted immediately to it and took actions as it should have."
"We would not be standing up here if we did not believe that this police department was worth backing," Walker said.
Jordan's parents, Charmaine and Odell Edwards, released a statement through their attorney saying they are grateful for the firing of Officer Oliver but are anxiously awaiting his arrest for his murder.
"Now, our focus is on the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to make sure they do what they are supposed to do in prosecuting the officer if he is wrong," Wright said.
"The family specifically said they don't want any protesting," Walker said. "Because the last thing they want is someone else in their city to be a victim. When you start clashing and emotions start to run, we can also have other victims here."
Chief Haber admitted that he erred Sunday in not cross checking the officer's story before addressing the public.
"We have a partnership with our community. I love the city of Balch Springs," he said. "It's about everybody coming together as individuals and working together."
The chief says the second officer's actions are also under review and will continue to be as transparent about the investigation as he can.
Oliver's friends spoke highly of him. They said he is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and, in their eyes at least, has been a very good police officer.