Former Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver (Photo: Courtesy of the Parker County Police Department).

Former Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver (Photo courtesy of the Parker County Sheriffs Department).

BALCH SPRINGS, Texas — The family of the Black, unarmed teen shot and killed by a White suburban Dallas police officer has sued the officer and his department, saying in the complaint the department did not provide sufficient training and allowed the officer to continue on duty despite wildly erratic behavior.

Jordan Edwards, 15, was buried on Saturday, May 13. The teen was shot while riding in a vehicle that was leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. After conflicting stories provided the media on the first day after the homicide, the department admitted Officer Roy Oliver fired his rifle at the vehicle as it was driving away, piercing a passenger-side window and mortally wounding Edwards.

After an internal affairs investigation, Oliver was fired and the county prosecutor had Oliver arrested on a murder charge.

The lawsuit claims that police should have known Oliver had “exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public.” As an example, a prosecutor made a complaint about his aggressive behavior detailed in personnel records, saying prosecutors had a hard time getting Oliver to attend a trial. He also reportedly used language vulgar enough that one prosecutor sent an intern out of the room.

Oliver received a 16-hour suspension over the complaint.

The lawsuit also accuses Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber and the department of failing “to provide adequate training to Oliver on appropriate methods and techniques to control situations similar to the one” that occurred on the night of April 29, when police were called to investigate underage drinking at a chaotic house party with dozens of teenagers.

“There was no reason that any person in America — not just a Black person — should ever have to bury their 15-year-old child who was doing everything right in life,” Jasmine Crockett, one of the family’s attorneys, said Sunday.

Crockett said attorneys filed the lawsuit to preserve the legal rights of the teenager’s father, Odell Edwards. The lawsuit broadly seeks damages for Edwards’ wrongful death but does not list a specific amount of money. No hearings have been scheduled.

Even with the quick action to fire and arrest Oliver, “people are still nervous and expecting to be disappointed,” Crockett said.

“That’s what we expect from our system time and time again,” she said.

The day after the shooting, police issued a statement saying the vehicle was reversing toward officers “in an aggressive manner.” Haber would correct that statement Monday after reviewing police video footage, saying the vehicle was actually driving away from the officers when Oliver fired his rifle.

Balch Springs’ use of force policy instructs officers to avoid shooting at moving vehicles unless their lives or others’ are in imminent danger.

“Oliver’s inadequate training resulted in the death of Edwards,” the lawsuit charges.

Terry Shropshire

I'm a lover of words, pictures, people and The Ohio State Buckeyes. A true journalist from the soul.

  • http://www.sistersinlaw.blogspot.com/ Janice L. Mathis

    The family is most likely to recover from the police department, given the lack of training component of the case. I would like to see a lawsuit that raises the issue of faulty hiring – failure to adequately screen for personality traits incompatible with good policing. Name the individual officer is necessary, but usually does not lead to financial recover from the officer personally. The department is the “deep pocket.”

    • SrAgri

      “The family is most likely to recover from the police department, given the lack of training component of the case.”
      I don’t know if this is a matter so much of training as it is a matter of inaction against an officer not mentally or emotionally competent to be an officer.

      He was suspended over language who used in a courtroom. He obviously had serious anger and/or impulse control issues. There were numerous indications of this problem, but the department continued to ignore these indications and keep giving him additional chances.

      “I would like to see a lawsuit that raises the issue of faulty hiring – failure to adequately screen for personality traits incompatible with good policing.”
      I would agree with this, but sometimes those traits don’t become evident until the person is under the stress of the job. This is why police officers need to police each other. Departments need to be prepared to transition out officers who are mentally or emotionally unfit.

      “The department is the ‘deep pocket.'”
      Actually, the taxpayers are the deep pocket. Large payouts will stress city budgets, which will aggravate elected officials, who will them put pressure on the police force, who may then initiate reforms, though such reforms are often meaningless. It’s really hard to hold police forces accountable, except on an individual criminal basis.

      • Oak510finest

        @ SrAgri “I don’t know if this is a matter so much of training as it is a matter
        of inaction against an officer not mentally or emotionally competent to
        be an officer”.

        If that was a true statement, Then where are the comparative examples, of a mentally or emotionally incompetent black officer, shooting white teens in the head leaving a party. Why is it always, either the victims fault, a accident or a need for better screening or training. Especially when it comes to race soldiers murdering black people.

        How come with all these cases. it can never be simply, that these race soldiers are just “murderous thugs”. Thugs who are purposely targeting and executing black people? Why is it so hard to believe, that a person with a badge is somehow immune to any criminal acts?

      • Oak510finest

        @ SrAgri “I don’t know if this is a matter so much of training as it is a matter
        of inaction against an officer not mentally or emotionally competent to
        be an officer”.

        If that was a true statement. Then where are the comparative examples, of a
        mentally or emotionally incompetent black officer, shooting white teens
        in the head leaving a party. Why is it always, either the victims
        fault, an accident or a need for better screening or training? Especially
        when it comes to race soldiers murdering black people.

        How come with all these cases. It can never be simply, that these race soldiers
        are just “murderous thugs”? Thugs who are purposely targeting and
        executing black people. Why is it so hard to believe. That a person with
        a badge is somehow immune to any criminal acts?

    • Oak510finest

      It’s not about any training or better police screening. These are race soldiers posing as cops, who are upholding systematic white supremacy by targeting and executing black people.

      If it was a matter of better training. Then we would be able to find other comparative examples. However, we both know they don’t exist.

      • britishrose

        bingo i said the same thing you said , they need to look at who they been hiring since the persian gulf war ./ WHEN THE ex miltary return home . they have more training iwth guns and weapontry and their superemist dont help . if you already got a angry white racist , and turn him into a solider they gonna retaliate against someone and black folks are target , everyone knows the problem but to fix it would take a president accusing the miltary olf faulty training their men . which is truth . . white and black done work together in the mitlary . its racicial divided . and you cant take a racist like dillion roof and send him to the army and when he get out think he will love american people . all races . come on

  • britishrose

    balch springs is a tiny suburb near dallas , these cops are not only mis trained they are most ex miltary with ptsd . and should not be working the police force . if they took all ex miltary white males offt the police force . they would have no cops nation wide . i wonder why they dont just train regular citizens for this job . white men are the primary person to get a cop job . im sure there are some black males exiting college who would do the job if trained , its a scary job to give someone who has mental issues . the miltary and congress know they are hiring mentally challenged males for this job until they change that there will be more senseless shooting by a trigger happy soilder type who beleves a gun solve all issues . this job is not about a gun its about justice . you cant just kill at will

  • disqus_C1Qel2NYjr

    The police department is not going to pay any of that money!! Get it through your heads, folks!!! Taxpayers pay the police department and taxpayers pay when the police get sued. When are you going to learn that these lawsuits don’t harm the police officers or the police departments? The governments are literally using taxpayers money to pay the judgement when cops kill those very same taxpayers. The police and that individual cop are not going to suffer at all. When have you ever heard of a police department “going out of business” because it could not afford to operate anymore after paying millions for a judgement? NEVER.