A white police officer in the US state of Texas has been charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old African American teenager. A Texas judge issued an arrest warrant for former Balch Springs Police officer Roy Oliver on Friday, seven days after he killed Jordan Edwards, a high school student.
The judge also set a $300,000 bond for Oliver, a US Army veteran of six years. He joined police in 2011. Oliver killed Edwards by opening fire at a car full of teenagers, who were fleeing a party after hearing alleged gunshots. The officer fired three bullets into the packed car, striking Edwards in the head. He was pronounced dead at a hospital later on. The teen’s death sparked nationwide outrage, forcing police to dismiss Oliver. Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber, who initially defended Oliver, reversed course after reviewing the bodycam footage.
At first, police argued that Oliver opened fire at the car, thinking that Edwards and his four other friends were going to hit him with their car. However, it turned out later on that he shot at the vehicle as it was getting away. “[The shooting] did not meet our core values,” he said. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Edwards’ family, said the victims’ parents were “grateful ” for the judge’s decision.
“I think it begins to at least give the appearance that the state is not going to sweep this clear wrong under the rug as it’s done in the past,” Merritt said. The judge’s warrant stated that Oliver “committed this offense while he intended to cause serious bodily injury in an act clearly dangerous to human life.”
According to local news agencies, Oliver was involved in an off-duty incident two weeks before, where he pulled his gun on a woman, who had rear-ended his pickup truck. Earlier this week, the US Department of Justice caused uproar in Louisiana by clearing two officers in the killing of Alton Sterling, an African-American man.