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.