Rare Murder Trial of Police Officer Starts in Texas

Roy Oliver is charged with the fatal shooting of  Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teen leaving a party with his brothers and friends in Balch Springs, Tx. Of 656 police shootings in Texas between 2010 and 2015, none resulted in a murder charge.

The murder trial of former police officer Roy Oliver began Thursday in Dallas. He is charged with the fatal shooting of  Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teen leaving a party with his brothers and friends in Balch Springs, Tx., in April 2017. It’s a historic case, reports the Texas Tribune. Despite increased scrutiny of police shootings and other uses of force, criminal charges against law enforcement officers remain rare in Texas and nationwide, and murder convictions are almost nonexistent. Police have a wide discretion to shoot if they’re in fear for their own life or someone else’s, and the law tends to side with them if they say they were in a situation where lethal force was needed.

Of 656 police shootings in the Texas’ largest cities between 2010 and 2015, only seven cops were indicted on a criminal charge, none of which were for murder, and none of which have led to jail time (four pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received short probation sentences). Nationwide, fewer than 100 law enforcement officers have faced murder or manslaughter charges since 2005, according to data collected by Bowling Green State University. In the Oliver case, body camera footage started with Oliver jovially teasing teenagers fleeing from a party busted by the cops, laughing as they complained about walking through the mud. Minutes later, the situation changed as gunshots rang through the air. Teens screamed, running in all directions, and Oliver rushed to his patrol car, grabbed his rifle and ran after his partner who was approaching a slowly-reversing sedan on foot. As the car began to move the opposite direction, Oliver fired five shots into the vehicle. One of the rounds he fired shot into the passenger side window and entered the back of 15-year-old Edwards’ head, killing him instantly.

from https://thecrimereport.org