Policing

Family of black 15-year-old killed by police asks that protests be postponed until after funeral

The family of Jordan Edwards, the 15-year-old shot and killed by a Dallas-area police officer as he was riding in a car, is asking that any protests be postponed until after the teens’ funeral has take place.

Edwards was struck by a bullet in the head after a police officer fired on the car he was riding in as he left a house party with his brother Saturday night. The officer, Roy Oliver, was fired Tuesday from his job for violating department policy.

Oliver worked for the Balch Springs Police Department, a 200-member force in a community about 15 miles outside of Dallas.

“Not only have Jordan’s brothers lost their best friend; they also witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless, murder,” his family said in a statement. “Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable violence.”

They also urged calm, and asked that no violence against police officers be carried out in Edwards’ name.

“We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies,” Edwards’ family said in a statement. “What we desire, only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is justice for Jordan.”

Next Generation Action Network, a Dallas-based civil rights group, cancelled a planned protest at the Balch Spring headquarters originally slated for Wednesday. The protest has been moved and postponed until May 9, and will be held at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building in Dallas.

The Dallas County district attorney will be the one to decide if charges will be filed in the case.

Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber appears to be acting swiftly to mitigate any controversy over the shooting, particularly after the department changed its version of events.

Initially, the department said it was responding to reports of drunk teenagers, and officers said they thought they’d heard gunshots. On Sunday, Haber told reporters that a vehicle began reversing toward officers in “an aggressive manner,” and in defense, an officer armed with a rifle shot into the car, hitting Edwards, who was sitting in the front seat.

By Monday, the story had changed. Haber gave a news conference to say that video footage from the scene, including body-camera footage, contradicted his initial account. The car did initially reverse but then accelerated forward and attempted to leave the premises when Oliver shot Edwards.

Lee Merritt, who is representing Edwards’ family, praised Haber for his willingness to correct the initial account, saying it was a “big deal,” given the current climate, where skewed accounts or a lack of transparency around police shootings has led to fraying trust with the public.

Edwards’ family also praised Haber’s decision to fire Oliver, but added that they “anxiously await” the officer’s arrest for the “crime of murder.”

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