The police killing of an unarmed black teenager in a Dallas, Texas suburb this weekend has activists and family members calling for the immediate firing and arrest of the involved officer. Mesquite High School freshman Jordan Edwards, according to family attorney Lee Merritt, was attempting to leave a house party Saturday with four other teenagers when multiple shots were fired into the vehicle. The local medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide, with the Dallas Morning News reporting that he had been killed with a rifle shot to the head.
As new developments in the death of Jordan Edwards, including contradictory police accounts, arrive daily, let's take a look at what we know so far.
Jordan Edwards, 15, was reportedly doing what any teen would be doing on a Saturday night: hanging out with friends.
According to Merritt, Edwards and four other teenagers "heard gunshots" and decided to get in the vehicle and leave the premises. Edwards was not operating the vehicle. The teenagers then heard "someone cursing," followed by three shots being fired into the vehicle. In a statement, the teen's family said his own siblings had to watch him die. "Not only have Jordan's brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless, murder," the statement said. "Their young lives will forever be altered." In their initial statement, the Balch Springs Police Department said they had been called to the residence after receiving a "911 call reporting several underage kids drunk [and] walking around." The teens in the vehicle, Merritt told the Morning News, had not been drinking and were not the teens referenced in the police call. Lisa Roberson, the mother of the teen who threw the house party "without her approval," said there had also been no drinking at the residence.
Police initially accused those in the vehicle with Edwards of driving toward cops "in an aggressive manner," then completely changed their story.
On Monday, the Balch Springs Police Department shared an updated statement with media outlets. The new statement contradicted the statement the department had released just one day earlier, in which the vehicle was alleged to have been driven toward the officers "in an aggressive manner." Monday's release said the vehicle was actually "driving away from the officer" when the officer's weapon was fired. After reviewing body-cam footage of the shooting, police chief Jonathan Haber told reporters the shooting did not meet the department's "core values." Merritt, speaking to the New York Times Monday, said this development was "a big deal" for the investigation moving forward. "The lone motive they had for the murder was that the vehicle was being used as a weapon, and now that is no longer there," Merritt said.
The officer has been fired.
The officer who shot and killed Edwards was initially not identified. As of Monday, he was on administrative leave pending an investigation conducted by the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and the Dallas County Sheriff's Department. As noted by the New York Daily News, the fatal shooting does not follow the Balch Springs Police Department's policy on use of force. "We are declaring war on bad policing," Merritt told reporters Monday. Though Haber cited body-cam footage in Monday's press conference, the footage is not expected to be released until the investigation has concluded.
It was announced on Tuesday that the officer, Roy Oliver, has been terminated, and that a criminal investigation is ongoing.
The Balch Springs Police Department did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.