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Texas police officer who killed black teen could spend rest of his life in prison

Roy Durwood Oliver, a Texas police officer, faces a murder charge in the shooting of a teenager after being fired earlier in the week over the incident, authorities said Friday. Oliver fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving a party April 29, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
Roy Durwood Oliver, a Texas police officer, faces a murder charge in the shooting of a teenager after being fired earlier in the week over the incident, authorities said Friday. Oliver fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving a party April 29, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Parker County Sheriff's Office

A Texas police officer turned himself in on Friday after he was charged with murder in the shooting death of a 15 year old.

Roy Durwood Oliver, a patrol officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs since July 2011, was released on $300,000 bail.

While dispatched on complaints about drunk teenagers at a party last weekend, Oliver fired his rifle at a car full of teenagers who were leaving, according to investigators, killing Jordan Edwards.

The police department fired Oliver on Tuesday.

If convicted of the murder charge, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. In a statement released Friday, Jordan's family said the charge "brings hope that the justice system will bend against the overwhelming weight of our frustration."

A funeral for the Mesquite High School freshman is scheduled for Saturday.

Because Jordan was black, the shooting has thrust the north Texas town of 25,000 into the ongoing debate about whether police are too quick to use deadly force on blacks and other minorities.

Jordan is the youngest of the 339 people shot and killed by police so far in 2017, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. At least 10 people shot and killed by police this year were under 18.

On April 29, Oliver and other officers were dispatched to a call about intoxicated teens at a house party. Police say that as officers dispersed the party, they heard gunshots outside. Then, when officers went to investigate, they saw a car backing out of a parking spot. As officers approached the vehicle, police say it began to drive away. Oliver opened fire, striking Jordan, who was riding in the passenger seat.

Jordan was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County Medical Examiner's office said he was killed by a rifle wound to the head. His family planned to bury him on Saturday.

Oliver was initially placed on administrative leave before he was fired just three days into the investigation. Parallel criminal and internal investigations are ongoing.

"The warrant was issued due to evidence that suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of an individual," Melinda Urbina, a public information officer with the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement.

"The investigation into the death of Jordan Edwards will continue and does not conclude with the arrest of Roy Oliver," the statement added.

Oliver, the second officer at the scene that night, "violated several department polices," Balch Springs Police Spokesman Pedro Gonzalez said, without elaborating.

"After reviewing the findings I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver's employment with the Balch Springs Police Department," Police Chief Jonathan Haber told reporters Tuesday evening. "My department will continue to be responsive, transparent and accountable."

Police initially said that the vehicle reversed "aggressively" at the approaching officers, but they later retracted that statement and said that body camera video showed that the vehicle was driving away from officers when Oliver opened fire.

In the family's statement, released Friday after a warrant was issued for Oliver's arrest, Attorney Lee Merritt called the charges "appropriate."

"Although this does not take away the excruciating pain caused by the loss of a son, brother, and friend, the announcement that the appropriate warrant has been issued for the arrest of Roy Oliver on the charge of murder has brought a bit of reprieve in a time of intense (mourning)," the statement said.

As the officer's murder case moves forward, Oliver has the right to appeal his termination. His attorney, Cindy Stormer, called for patience in a statement provided to the Dallas Morning News.

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