UPDATE: Jordan Edwards’ family has filed a lawsuit, reports AP.
Oliver was fired last week and arrested on a murder charge.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, says police should have known Oliver had “exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public,” including a prosecutor’s complaint about his aggressive behavior detailed in personnel records. The complaint said prosecutors had a hard time getting Oliver to attend a trial and used language vulgar enough that one prosecutor sent an intern out of the room. Oliver received a 16-hour suspension over the complaint.
But the lawsuit also blames Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber and the department for having “failed to provide adequate training to Oliver on appropriate methods and techniques to control situations similar to the one” that occurred on the night of April 29, when police were called to investigate underage drinking at a chaotic house party with dozens of teenagers.
“There was no reason that any person in America — not just a black person — should ever have to bury their 15-year-old child who was doing everything right in life,” Jasmine Crockett, one of the family’s attorneys, said Sunday.
Crockett said attorneys filed the lawsuit to preserve the legal rights of the teenager’s father, Odell Edwards. The lawsuit broadly seeks damages for Edwards’ wrongful death, but does not list a specific amount of money. No hearings have been scheduled.
Even with the quick action to fire and arrest Oliver, as Edwards’ family and people protesting the shooting had demanded, “people are still nervous and expecting to be disappointed,” Crockett said.
“That’s what we expect from our system time and time again,” she said.
The day after the shooting, police issued a statement saying the vehicle was reversing toward officers “in an aggressive manner.” Haber would correct that statement Monday after reviewing police video footage, saying the vehicle was actually driving away from the officers when Oliver fired his rifle.
Balch Springs’ use of force policy — in line with national recommendations — instructs officers to avoid shooting at moving vehicles unless their lives or others’ are in imminent danger. But the lawsuit says officials had the responsibility to determine whether Oliver knew how to respond.
“Oliver’s inadequate training resulted in the death of Edwards,” the lawsuit said.
A spokesman for police and an attorney for Oliver, Cindy Stormer, did not return messages Sunday seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Murder Charges Filed In Edwards’ Death
DALLAS (AP) — A white Texas police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting of a black teenager for which the officer was fired, according to an arrest warrant issued Friday.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office issued the warrant for former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver in the April 29 shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, according to a sheriff’s office statement. The statement cited evidence that suggested Oliver “intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death.”
Oliver fired a rifle at a car of teenagers leaving a party, striking and killing Edwards. The shooting led to protests calling for Oliver to be charged. About 200 people attended a vigil Thursday night in the Dallas suburb.
The warrant states that any peace officer may arrest Oliver, and that Oliver could also turn himself in to authorities. Meanwhile, sheriff’s spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said, the investigation into the shooting continues.
Oliver’s attorney, Cindy Stormer, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. The attorney for the teen’s family, Lee Merritt, said he would issue a statement later Friday.
Edwards and his two brothers and two other teenagers were driving away from an unruly house party in Balch Springs late Saturday night when Oliver opened fire on their vehicle with a rifle. The bullets shattered the front passenger-side window and struck Edwards. Oliver was fired Tuesday for violating department policies.
It took a few moments for Edwards’ 16-year-old brother, who was driving, and other passengers to notice that he was slumped over in his seat.
Records show that Oliver was briefly suspended in 2013 following a complaint about his conduct while serving as a witness in a drunken-driving case.
Associated Press writers Terry Wallace, Paul J. Weber and Juan A. Lozano contributed to this report.