Ex-Cop Receives 15 Years In Prison In Rare Sentence For On-Duty Shooting Of Unarmed Teen

"This case is not just about Jordan. It's about Tamir Rice. It's about Walter Scott. It's about Alton Sterling."

A jury sentenced an ex-Texas police officer to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for the killing of an unarmed African-American teen, marking a rare outcome in the slew of recent police-involved shooting deaths.

Following 12 hours of deliberation, Roy Oliver was convicted in the April 2017 shooting and killing of 15-year-old high school freshman Jordan Edwards. The fatal incident occurred when the former Balch Springs officer opened fire on a car full of teens leaving a house party. Edwards was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, which Oliver later claimed was heading "aggressively" towards his partner, Officer Tyler Gross.

Body camera footage from the incident later revealed that the car was actually driving away from the officers, as Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber admitted during a news conference in May 2017. After the shooting, Oliver was fired from the Balch Springs Police force, and charged with murder, manslaughter, and aggravated assault. 


Oliver was found guilty of murder and not guilty on the two lesser charges on Tuesday afternoon, the second day of deliberation and the day before the sentencing.

"I just want to say I'm happy. It's been a hard year. I'm just really happy,"  Edwards' father, Odell Edwards, said after the verdict. "We are just happy in Dallas that Roy Oliver is going to have to do his time for Jordan. What he did on that night should've never happened, and we're happy we got justice today."

Odell Edwards at Roy Oliver sentencing 
Odell Edwards, father of Jordan Edwards, gets a hug from Dallas County district attorney Faith Johnson after hearing a guilty of murder verdict during the ninth day of the trial of fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver. Photo by Rose Baca - Pool/Getty Images

The 15-year sentence fell short of the 60-year minimum that prosecutors were initially seeking. Despite that, Oliver's sentencing does mark a rare conclusion to a police-related shooting death, many of which don't even go to trial.  Of those that do go to trial, most, including high-profile cases like that of Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, end in acquittals, despite of widespread protesting and public outcry. 

"We don't want another parent to have to go through what this family has had to deal with," Jordan's family attorney, Daryl Washington, said prior to the sentencing. "This case is not just about Jordan. It's about Tamir Rice. It's about Walter Scott. It's about Alton Sterling. It's about every African-American ... who have been killed and who have not gotten justice."

Cover image via Rose Baca - Pool/Getty Images.


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