A former top prosecutor in Dallas County provided a revealing look at the pressure surrounding a high-profile case like the murder charge against fired Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver.
The murder case against the fired officer will eventually go to a grand jury.
That panel will have a uniquely different role in officer-involved cases and unique challenges with the publicity surrounding the shooting death of an unarmed 15-year-old boy, Jordan Edwards.
Messina Madson has inside knowledge about the district attorney’s investigative team. She says the challenge for the unity will be getting at the truth.
On Thursday, Jordan’s family and attorneys met with Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson and the district attorney's officer involved shooting team.
“Those are some of the hardest meetings you will ever have,” Madson said. “You know a family is broken. You know their hearts are broken. You know they are in the depth of their grieving, and you know you're not gonna fix it for them.”
Madson was the First Assistant District Attorney under Susan Hawk and was part of the group that investigated these cases.
The officer involved shooting team has multiple investigators, multiple prosecutors that are hand-picked because of their specialized knowledge.
Madson explained how the grand jury that will hear Roy Oliver's case has an expanded role in officer-involved shootings.
“In an officer involved shooting, the grand jury hears live testimony of every witness,” she said. “They see all of the evidence. They will see any body camera footage. They will hear about testimony, and then they will get to hear from all of the parties involved.”
The grand jury will also be able to ask questions of those who testify.
“They will be given all of the evidence, and then they make a determination of the highest level that there is probable cause that may be murder, an intentional and knowing act,” Madson explained.
Madson says the protests, news conferences and the images of pain-stricken parents are no pressure compared to the self-imposed pressure that comes with being on the officer involved shooting investigative team.
“The pressure is you want to do what’s right. Law enforcement very often has a thankless job. There are police officers out there, the vast majority, are doing a very good job,” she said. “As you're looking at the case, you are being very intentional of is this a righteous shooting and if it’s not righteous. You do what your job demands, and you seek justice.”
The medical examiner has yet to determine Jordan’s cause of death. But his autopsy is still in progress and could take eight weeks or more before it is complete.