Suburban Dallas police fires officer for fatally shooting teen in car

Reuters News
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Posted: May 02, 2017 9:37 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A suburban Dallas police force fired an officer on Tuesday for shooting a rifle into a car of unarmed teenagers driving away from him, killing a 15-year-old boy and sparking outrage in the primarily black and Hispanic community where the incident took place.

The Balch Springs Police Department said in a statement it dismissed officer Roy Oliver for violating several department policies, adding it "cannot give further details on which policies have been violated since Roy Oliver can appeal the termination."

The department said officers were responding to a disturbance on Saturday night and heard multiple gunshots. They came across the vehicle with the teens, ordered it to stop, but it pulled away.

Jordan Edwards, a black high school student described by family and friends as a stand-out student and athlete, was struck by a bullet to the head and died. Two of his brothers were in the car and watched him die, a family lawyer said.

Police body-camera footage from the scene was reviewed before the department made its decision, but the tape has not been released to the public.

Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber told a news conference the video contradicted an earlier version he had released of the events where he said the car was in reverse and heading toward the officer.

Haber told reporters he released the mistaken information based on an account given to him by the officer and that the video recording showed the car was moving away.

The Edwards family said in a statement it wanted the officer to be arrested for murder.

"The magnitude of his horrible actions cannot be overstated," said the family statement released by attorney S. Lee Merritt.

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Oliver's lawyer, Cindy Stormer, told the Dallas Morning News that since the case is under investigation, "we cannot make any comments at this time."

The family has asked the community to refrain from protests as it prepares for the funeral, but many residents in Balch Springs, about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Dallas, have told local media that racial bias may have been a factor in the death.

"Great kid. Awesome parents. He was not a thug. This shouldn't happen to him," Chris Cano, whose son played football with Edwards, told local TV station WFAA.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Peter Cooney)