Friday 18 August 2017

Everything you need to know about the police shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards

By Prudence Wade

The unarmed teenager died on Saturday night in Texas.

On Saturday 15-year-old Jordan Edwards died after being shot by a police officer in Texas. Here’s everything you need to know about the incident and the subsequent fallout.

What happened?

Edwards, a high school freshman, had got into a vehicle with four other teenagers to leave a house party as police were arriving to investigate an under age drinking complaint, according to his family’s attorney, Lee Merritt.

Edwards was in the front seat of the car, driven by his 16-year-old brother, when shots from a police officer’s rifle pierced the front side passenger window. He died in hospital later that night.

The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Edwards’ death a homicide.

What did the police say happened?

In his first statement, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said officers heard gunshots after responding to a call of drunken teenagers, and one officer fired his gun when a car started backing towards them “in an aggressive manner”.

However, on Monday he amended that statement to say that the video showed that the vehicle was not reversing, but instead “moving forward as the officers approached”.

What has the response to the incident been?

Before Haber’s update, Merritt and the teenager’s family held their own news conference, during which Merritt accused police of “offering facts that they believe paint a picture that would justify the unjustifiable”.

Merritt later said that Jordan’s shooting brings to mind the high-profile deaths of other black people after police encounters that have sparked outrage and protest in recent years, but that this case stood out for its “sheer recklessness”.

Thousands of Facebook and Twitter users have posted about the case in recent days with the hashtag “#jordanedwards”, some comparing his death to other police shootings of young black men and boys, such as 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who was fatally shot in November 2014 as he held a pellet gun.

What has the Edwards family said?

Merritt said the Edwards family wants to see the officer criminally charged.

“Our family is working hard to deal with both the loss of our beloved Jordan and the lingering trauma it has caused our boys,” a family statement said.

In a separate statement, the family paid tribute to their son: “Jordan was a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit.”

What happens next?

The officer who shot Edwards has been identified as Roy Oliver, who has since been fired from the Balch Springs Police Department for violating its policies.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and Dallas County Integrity Unit are also holding separate investigations into the incident.

In a statement, the Edwards family said there “remains a long road ahead”. They are calling for the other police officers involved – who they say treated Jordan’s brothers and two friends like “common criminals” as he lay dying – to be reprimanded as well. They want justice against those who “extended this nightmare for those children”.

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