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One historic step toward justice

Dallas County’s historic win, fired officer sentenced for killing Jordan Edwards

ROBYN H. JIMENEZ and DENISHA McKNIGHT | 9/6/2018, 10:36 a.m.
“Jordan was just one of those kids who you knew was just going to go on and do great things,” ...
Left: Jordan Edwards, 15, killed by White police officer as he left a house party. Right: Jordan Edwards' parents Odell and Charmaine Edwards. LM Otero (right photo)

On April 29, 2017, Jordan went to a house party with his older brothers, Vidal Allen and Kevon Edwards. At some point, the police were called and partygoers began exiting the house. Police body camera footage shows officers in the house; Officer Tyler Gross laughed at the teens going through the mud and former officer Roy Oliver bragging that he stood in the way and made them go through the mud. Soon after, the officers began talking to the host when numerous loud gunshots were heard outside. The officers ran out of the house to find screaming teens scrambling for cover and running to their cars, attempting to leave. One officer heard on the bodycam footage stated that the gunfire came from the nursing home across the field.

During the trial, Gross testified that he stopped one vehicle and attempted to stop another vehicle – the vehicle that Jordan was a passenger was leaving slowly in reverse. Gross attempted to stop the vehicle but, Vidal – who was driving – said he didn’t realize it was a police officer who yelled out, “Stop that f*ing car.”

“Police don’t talk like that, sir,” Vidal said during his testimony. “The profanity with the police, sir. Police don’t say that, not to no kids, sir.”

Vidal also testified that he couldn’t see that it was an officer making the commands because he had a bright light shining directly at him with what he felt was the light on the top of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He said that he was scared and continued to flee for safety.

Shortly afterward, Oliver fired five rounds from his AR-15 into the vehicle and shot Jordan in the back of his head.

During the trial, Oliver said Jordan was a “perceived threat” and he fired into the vehicle to stop it from hitting his partner. However, the prosecution revealed that Oliver shot into the vehicles seconds after the vehicle passed them, so the youth could not be a threat since the vehicle was driving away.

Also, Gross admitted that he never felt his life or well-being was in danger and did not feel the need to shoot. Although, during questioning by the defense attorneys, he seemed to suggest that his partner may have thought Vidal was trying to hit him with his vehicle.

But the district attorney’s office had a solid case against Oliver, backed by strong witnesses, revealing footage from police body camera, and damaging information on Oliver’s aggressive behavior in the past. First Assistant District Attorney Mike Snipes presented an attention-grabbing closing argument.

The trial concluded Aug. 28 with the jury unanimously finding him guilty of murder.

The sentencing phase

The sentencing trial was held the following day. Johnson presented the closing arguments, adding her concerns to the jury that they would not be brave enough to give him the long-term sentence she said he deserved.

“I had concerns, not so much about the case but about the jury,” Johnson recalled. “And, even when you look at the sentence that they rendered in the case, obviously you see that there was a compromise. You probably had some people who wanted to give a whole lot more, and you probably had some people who wanted to give a whole lot less, and they met somewhere in the middle. Because, I bet you, somebody got back there and said, ‘Hey, hell is going to freeze over before I change my verdict.’