The white former Texas police officer found guilty of murdering unarmed black teenager Jordan Edwards on his way home from a party, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Roy Oliver’s sentencing on Wednesday followed an extremely rare conviction for shootings involving on-duty police officers in the United States.
He faced up to life in prison, which his own sister had earlier revealed she hoped he got. His lawyers are expected to appeal the 15 years.
The white former Texas police officer found guilty of murdering an unarmed black teenager on his way home from a party, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison
Ingrid Llerena (right) wife of former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver, reacts after her husband receives a sentence of 15 years in prison
Oliver was quoted as being ‘disappointed in entire process’, reports
Jordan’s mother, Charmaine Edwards, said: ‘He actually can see life again after 15 years’.
Adding Jordan can’t, she said she thought the sentence set at 15 years because her son was 15 when he died.
The family’s attorney also told reporters they were not completely satisfied.
‘We all would have liked to have seen a greater sentence but we are going to respect the verdict,’ Faith Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney, agreed.
The jury featured two black members out of 12 jurors and two alternates. All raised their right hand when asked to confirm if they had individually agreed to the sentence.
They had earlier acquitted Oliver on two lesser charges of aggravated assault stemming from the shooting.
Only six non-federal police officers have been convicted of killings in similar cases since 2005, according to data compiled by criminologist and Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson. However four of those convictions were overturned.
Prior to sentencing Wednesday, Johnson had called him a ‘killer in blue’.
Charmaine Edwards (In blue right) and her husband Odell Edwards look on after sentencing of Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver for the murder of 15-year-old
Lead prosecutor Michael Snipes reacts after defendant Roy Oliver receives a sentence of 15 years in prison for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards
Oliver’s mother, Linda had asked for a five-year sentence, telling the court to bear in mind his three-year-old autistic son.
However, Oliver’s half-sister had called her convicted murderer sibling ‘trash’ in a Facebook message to the slain boy’s mother.
Appearing as a surprise witness for prosecutors Wednesday, Wendy Oliver testified and admitted to the courtroom before the conviction that she penned a Facebook message to Jordan Edwards’ mother, sympathizing with the family for their loss.
Roy Oliver’s sister recalled what she’d said in the online communication, a
Wendy Oliver, half-sister of the white cop found guilty shooting dead an unarmed black teenager last April called her convicted murderer sibling ‘trash’ in a message to Edwards’ mom
Charmaine Edwards (pictured left Wednesday) and Odell Edwards (right) lost their son unlawfully and the jury as well as Roy Oliver’s sister agreed
Faith Johnson, Dallas County District Attorney, gave a closing statement Wednesday
Lead prosecutor Michael Snipes (left) asked Wendy whether he should get the maximum sentence and she said he should. Johnson (right) gave and emotional close
‘I sent her a message saying that I hoped that justice is served in this case and he gets what he deserves because he took an innocent life and I feel sorry for what he has done to this boy and I was watching testimony’ she said.
Wendy revealed that seeing the goings on in court moved her to come down and take to the stand.
She added that seeing other witnesses plea for a minimum sentence didn’t convince her to believe the same.
‘I don’t think so,’ she disagreed when lead prosecutor Michael Snipes asked if he should get the minimum sentence. However, when asked whether the maximum is more appropriate she said, visibly emotional: ‘I think so because of the circumstances that happened.’
Edwards (pictured when he was younger) was sitting in the front passenger seat and trying to leave the party with his brother when Oliver shot him in the head
The mother of Roy Oliver (pictured center) said he’s a good man and wants the jury to give him a lenient sentence after he was found guilty of murder for the 2017 death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards
Oliver, 38, who was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department following the April 2017 shooting, was found guilty Tuesday for firing his rifle into a car and killing 15-year-old Edwards
For her relative that is life in prison.
On the other hand, the mother of the former Dallas police officer wants jurors to consider a lenient sentence for the sake of the ex-cop’s son.
Oliver, 38, who was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department following the April 2017 shooting, was found guilty Tuesday for firing his rifle into a car and killing 15-year-old Edwards.
Edwards, his brother and some friends were leaving a house party that was shut down by officers when the shooting occurred.
During the sentencing phase of Oliver’s trial, his mother broke down in tears as she begged for the jury to give Oliver a light prison sentence.
‘I’m asking you to take into consideration several things,’ Linda Oliver said, according to
Linda Oliver cried as she asked the jury to consider giving Roy Oliver a light prison sentence
Linda testified that her son is a ‘good person’ and a ‘wonderful father’ and needs to be there for his young son
She added: ‘My son was raised with a father in prison … and I know how hard it is to be a single mother.’
During the sentencing, Linda was asked about Edwards’ parents being stripped of ever seeing their son have children.
‘I would agree that they’ve been stripped of the privilege. I would agree with that, but did my son strip them? I think it was an awful set of circumstances that stripped them,’ she said.
Before Linda left the stand, she was also asked if Oliver’s son would visit him in jail and was reminded that Edwards’ parents won’t ever see him again.
‘I accept it. I think we’re both living our own version of hell,’ she said.
Oliver’s wife also testified and broke down in tears on the stand. Through a Spanish translator she said she never saw her husband ‘sad or violent or mean’.
Although Oliver was found guilty of murder, he was found not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault for firing his rifle into the car full of teenagers.
Oliver testified during his trial that he opened fire after seeing the car move toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross. He said he thought Gross was in danger.
Gross told jurors he didn’t fear for his life and never felt the need to fire his weapon.
Edwards’ step-mother previously told the court how he was a studious child who was getting A and B grades before he was killed (the teen is pictured left with father Odell Edwards, right)
Odell Edwards and Charmaine Edwards, parents of Jordan Edwards, react to a guilty of murder verdict during a trial of fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver
The teen’s father Ordell Edwards (pictured on the right) and other family members said: ‘It’s been a long time, hard year, and we’re just really happy’
M.L Dorey, the Edwards family pastor testified about Ray Oliver who shot Jordan dead
Others who testified include M.L Dorey, the Edwards family pastor, Balch Springs police officer Raymond Keener and Ray’s landlord Billie Gorwood.
The Dallas County jury deliberated for around 12 hours for a period of two days before deciding on a verdict, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Edwards’ family clapped and cheered after the verdict was read.
‘It’s been a long time, hard year, and we’re just really happy,’ Odell Edwards, Jordan’s father, said. ‘We did it.’
Oliver was immediately taken into custody and his bond was revoked.
The jury will now listen to testimony from the slain teen’s family, friends, and teachers before determining Oliver’s sentence.
Tuesday’s conviction marked the first time in more than 40 years since an on-duty cop has been found guilty of killing someone in a shooting in Texas.
‘It’s about Tamir Rice. It’s about Walter Scott. It’s about Alton Sterling,’ Edwards’ attorney, Daryl Washington, said after the verdict was read, naming other men who and boys who had been killed by officers across America.
‘It’s about every unarmed African-American, who has been killed and who has not gotten justice.’
Edwards’ death launched the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs into a national conversation on issues of law enforcement and race.
Oliver’s wife, Ingrid, broke down in tears while on the stand Wednesday saying through a translator that she never saw her husband ‘sad or violent or mean’
Balch Springs police officer Raymond Keener testified during the sentencing phase of former fellow officer Roy Oliver
Roy Oliver’s landlord Billie Gorwood testified during the sentencing phase of former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver at the Frank Crowley Courts Building Wednesday
Judge Brandon Birmingham (left) spoke to defense attorney Bob Gill (right) during the sentencing phase of Roy Oliver
Experts said ahead of the trial that securing convictions against an officer was challenging, in part because criminal culpability in on-duty shootings is subjective and jurors are more inclined to believe police testimony.
In closing arguments, defense attorneys told the jury they needed to evaluate the circumstances from Oliver’s viewpoint and from what the former officer knew at the time.
But prosecutors described Oliver as out of control and looking for a reason to kill. They argued that his firing into the car wasn’t reasonable.
The shooting came after Oliver and Gross had broken up a large house party following a report of underage drinking.
Both officers were inside the residence when they heard gunfire outside and responded.
Authorities later determined the shots were fired near a nursing home in the area.
Oliver faces up to life in prison. He testified during his trial that he thought his partner was in danger when he opened fire into the car
Oliver was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department following the April 2017 shooting. He’s pictured in court on Tuesday
Physical evidence Detective Garrick Whaley, with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, shows members of the jury the rifle Roy Oliver used
Oliver retrieved his rifle and went toward Gross, who was ordering the car carrying Edwards to stop. He claimed his partner had a sense of urgency in his voice.
The former officer testified that he saw the car back up and stop for a second before moving forward and going toward Gross.
He claimed he saw movement from a passenger’s silhouette inside the vehicle, and thought Gross had found a shooter or shooters or at least some information on the gunfire.
Oliver said a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon, so he was left with no choice but to fire his rifle.
Gross, however, testified that he didn’t feel like the vehicle was trying to hit him.
During his testimony, Oliver said it was ‘very sickening’ when he realized he had killed the boy. ‘I was in shock for days,’ he said.
Two teenagers who were at the party testified last week that they were across the street when Oliver fired.
The teens, Eric Knight and Jeremy Seaton, said they could not see a justification for the gunfire.
Seaton said the car was not facing an officer at the time and had steered into the wrong lane of traffic to avoid officers.
The prosecution said all five shots were fired by Oliver after the car had passed Gross. Investigators also said no guns were found in the teens’ vehicle.
Body-cam footage shown during the trial showed Edwards’ brother and his friends all putting their hands outside the car’s windows after he was shot.
Officer Jeremy Chamblee testified that the teens were ‘begging’ for help after Jordan was killed.
‘I specifically heard the driver stating needing help cause his brother was shot dead in the vehicle by a police officer,’ Chamblee said.
Chamblee also revealed that Jordan’s brother asked if they could pray together following the teen’s death.
‘He was asking God to watch over his brother if he doesn’t make it, to keep him safe,’ Chamblee recalled.
Philip Hayden, a use-of-force expert called by the prosecution, said Oliver used excessive force when he shot and killed Edwards and testified that a reasonable officer would not have opened fire.
Oliver also testified the shooting could have been prevented if one of the bystanders had waved at him and reported the shooters near the nursing home had left the scene.
‘It would have changed the outcome,’ he said.