The mother of a former Dallas police officer convicted of murder for shooting dead an unarmed black teen last year wants jurors to consider a lenient sentence for the sake of the ex-cop’s son.
Roy Oliver, 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 Jordan 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 Wednesday. ‘First, he’s a wonderful father. … He’s a good person. Next, I would ask you to consider (Oliver’s wife) Ingrid, of course, I’ll put myself in there too, but consider his son.’
The mother of Roy Olive said he’s a good man and wants the jury to give him a lenient sentence after he was found guilty of murder
Ingrid Oliver, wife of Roy Oliver, broke down on the stand saying she has never seen him ‘sad, violent or mean’
Edwards’s step-mother previously told the court how he was a studious child who was getting A and B grades before he was killed (pictured left with father Odell Edwards, right)
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.
Edwards (pictured as a child) was sitting in the front passenger seat and trying to leave the party with his brother when Oliver shot him in the head
‘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’.
Wendy Oliver, the sister of the convicted murderer, also testified and admitted to the courtroom that she called her brother ‘trash’ in a Facebook message to Edwards’ mother.
‘I sent her a message 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.’ she said.
Wendy also said she thinks due the circumstances, her brother should get the maximum sentence, which is life in prison.
Although Oliver, 38, 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.
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.
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
Jordan’s family said: ‘It’s been a long time, hard year, and we’re just really happy
‘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.
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.
If convicted, 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
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.