DALLAS - The family of 15-year old Jordan Edwards is moving forward with their civil rights lawsuit against the fired police officer now convicted and sentenced for the teenager’s murder.
Roy Oliver began serving his 15-year sentence immediately after Wednesday night’s punishment verdict. The former Balch Springs police officer will also have to pay a $10,000 fine.
Edwards’ parents said Thursday at a press conference with their attorneys that their family will never be the same. They believe that while the 15-year sentence for Oliver isn’t enough, it’s a start. His stepmother said the family does get some sense of justice knowing Oliver is not walking free.
“Change can come. It’s hope. Still a long way to go, but it's hope that something can change,” said stepmom Charmaine Edwards
Late Wednesday night after the sentence was announced, Jordan’s parents did what they’ve done many times over the last 16 months.
“We go in his room quite often, still the same as he left it. Sit on the bed, walk around the room,” they said.
The sentence of 15 years, with the possibility of parole in seven and a half, offers little consolation for Edwards’ family who say they’ve been torn apart.
“Although it wasn’t what we wanted, those 15 years or however many years he does, it’s gonna feel like life to him. He's ripped away from his family,” Charmaine Edwards said.
Balch Springs police declined an interview, but released a statement from the chief of police.
"There isn't anyone in our department or the community who has not been impacted by this tragedy or doesn't wish there had been a different outcome that night. Nothing that we can say as a police department will provide comfort or closure to the Edwards family," Chief Jonathan Haber said. "This one tragic incident cannot be allowed to define our department or our relationship with the people we serve and protect."
Chief Haber, who initially supported his officer’s account of the deadly shooting, quickly changed course after seeing body cam video and fired Oliver within days. However, the family does not believe that’s enough.
“Balch Springs has really never stepped up and really apologized to this family. Quite frankly, Balch Springs has taken a step behind the criminal case and in our opinion, was somehow hoping it went another way,” said Darryl Washington, Edwards’ family attorney.
Edwards’ parents say there may come a time later for them to become part of the bigger social justice movement. But for now, they’re still just processing what they consider justice for Jordan.
Edwards’ parents will get a chance to address Oliver in court if they wish. They say they’re still trying to figure out what to say when they address their son’s killer directly. A date for those victim impact statements has not yet been set.
On Good Day Thursday morning, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said her office did consider Oliver’s claim that he felt his partner’s life was in danger when he opened fire on the car full of teenage boys. But Johnson said Oliver’s account of what happened that night did not hold up.
“We really did have to look at it from his position. However, we presented so much evidence to show it doesn’t matter what you thought. It wasn’t reasonable," she said. "We had people who testified it was unreasonable for you to shoot into that vehicle. Five teenage boys were in that vehicle and we could have had five deaths and we only had one.”
Oliver’s attorney has already filed an appeal of the guilty verdict. He has to serve at least half of the sentence before he can be considered for parole.