Former Texas police officer Roy Oliver was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for fatally shooting an unarmed African American teenage boy last year, NPR reports.
Oliver was employed as an officer in Balch Springs when he shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in April 2017.
After responding to a report of underage drinking with his partner, Oliver fired his weapon at a moving vehicle five times, shooting Edwards in the head, who was sitting in the passenger of the vehicle at the time of his death.
While Oliver first told his department that he fired his weapon because he believed his partner’s life was in danger, his partner quickly negated this claim.
According to a report from The Associated Press, “Police initially said the vehicle backed up toward officers ‘in an aggressive manner,’ but later admitted that bodycam video showed the vehicle was moving forward as officers approached. Oliver’s partner told jurors he didn’t believe his life was ever in danger.”
After a 12 hour deliberation, Oliver was convicted of murder on Tuesday in Dallas County court. On Wednesday, the same jury sentenced him to 15 years in prison with a chance for parole after 7.5 years, in addition to paying a $10,000 fine.
The victim’s stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, feels that Oliver’s sentence is not long enough. “He can actually see life again after 15 years and that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again,” she said, adding, however, that Wednesday’s verdict is “a start.”
Referring to Oliver as a “killer in blue,” District Attorney Faith Johnson called the former officer’s conviction “historic” because, as The Associated Press claims, a murder charge is “extremely rare for a shooting involving an on-duty officer.”
Oliver’s attorney Miles Brissette, however, who is planning to appeal his client’s sentence, insists that Wednesday’s verdict should be troubling for fellow police officers. “It sends a chilling message to some as to how an officer’s going to react in a similar situation,” Brissette said. “Are they going to go to work one day and be facing a murder charge the next for making a decision that was a split second? That’s what was at issue here.”
White Texas police officer found guilty of murder for fatally shooting black teen in car. This life should never have been lost. https://t.co/SfxnPwXO0V— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 28, 2018
In addition, Jordan Edwards’ father filed a civil lawsuit in conjunction with his son’s fatal shooting. According to his lawyer, Daryl Washington, “The jury’s decision is not just about Jordan Edwards, but all other black men and women who have been killed and not received justice.”