A jury's conviction of former Texas Police Officer Roy Oliver in the death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards came as a shock to many. Officers who shoot civilians often escape punishment, even when evidence of wrongdoing is substantial. Now, Oliver has been sentenced for murder. The sentence, however, is much lighter than Edwards' family had hoped.
After spending hours deliberating, a jury agreed on Wednesday evening to sentence Oliver to 15 years in prison for Edwards' death. He must also pay a $10,000 fine. According to FindLaw, a murder conviction can carry a sentence anywhere between five and 99 years in state prison.
Charmaine Edwards, Jordan's mother, reacted to the sentence by saying, "This is a start for us and we can get some kind of closure."
Edwards died after attending a party in Balch Springs, Texas, in May 2017. Officers like Oliver arrived on the scene in response to a call about underage teen drinking. Edwards, his brother, and his friends attempted to leave the party. Oliver claimed that the car in which Edwards sat backed up "in an aggressive manner" toward him and his partner. He began shooting. In an unusual twist, Police Chief Jonathan Haber publicly contradicted Oliver after the initial reporting, saying that the car was actually driving forward.
A jury found Oliver guilty of murder on Tuesday. He was found not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant.
NBC DFW reports that Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson stated that the length of Oliver's sentence meant that he was not eligible for an appeal bond. Because of this, he was immediately taken into custody. His legal team has already made plans to appeal the verdict. Bob Gill, the attorney representing Oliver, said, "I think what we want people to take from this is that anytime a police officer is called upon and forced to exercise his deadly force option, it's a tragedy for both the officer and the family of the deceased involved." Gill was referring to Oliver's defense of the shooting. Body camera footage shown the jury, however, showed the car driving away from Oliver when he opened fire. Still, Oliver maintained during the trial that he had to use lethal force as a "car is a deadly weapon."