Family of Teen Killed by Texas Police Asks for Calm

The family of a teenager fatally shot in this Dallas suburb by a now-dismissed police officer has called on supporters to postpone any protests or marches until after his funeral and to refrain from violence against police.

Local police have turned over the investigation into the highly charged case to Dallas County authorities.

The victim, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, was killed in front of his brother as they left a party over the weekend in this city of about 25,000 people, 15 miles east of downtown Dallas.

One group postponed its planned protest rally at the family’s request while funeral preparations were underway. The family also said it opposed any violence against police in the wake of the killing.

“We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies,” the statement said. “What we desire only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is JUSTICE FOR JORDAN.”

Family and friends gathered Monday evening outside Mesquite High School to honor the teenager. The Mesquite school district described him as a good student who was “very well-liked by his teachers, coaches and fellow students.”

The shooting occurred after officers, responding to a report of intoxicated teens at a party, purportedly heard gunfire outside. Initially, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said a car was backing up toward officers on the street when an officer armed with a rifle shot the teenager, who was a passenger in the car.

Haber corrected the story in a news conference late Monday, saying video from the scene shows the car initially backing up, but then moving forward and leaving the scene at the time Jordan was shot in the head. The Dallas County Medical Examiner classified the teen’s death as a homicide by rifle wound to the head.

The police department said it fired Officer Roy Oliver for violating department policies. The dismissal came hours after the victim’s family called the killing a “violent, senseless, murder.”

The chief said that what he saw on the video was not “consistent with the policies and core values of the Balch Springs Police Department.”

Haber also said he had spoken with Jordan’s family. “My heart just skips a beat,” he said. “From one father to another, I can’t even express what they are going through.”

The department immediately turned over the investigation of the shooting to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said its civil rights team will conduct an “impartial and independent investigation.”

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price told reporters after a commissioners court meeting that he was not surprised the officer’s account of the shooting conflicted with the video.

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Source: USA TODAY | Jobin Panicker and Doug Stanglin