DALLAS – A white former police officer convicted of murder for the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Texas is a good man and a devoted father, his mother testified Wednesday as they urged the judges to impose a mild sentence.
Linda Oliver was among several people who spoke during the decisive phase of Roy Oliver, the trial. Oliver, who was sentenced Tuesday in 2017, the death of the 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, who was shot when Oliver fired his gun into a car full of black teenagers giving a large house party in a suburb of Dallas.
Oliver faces between five and 99 years in prison. Prosecutors have asked for at least a 60-year sentence.
His mother asked the jurors for a period of five year sentence, saying her young grandson needs his father’s support.
“He needs his father’s love. He needs his father’s income. He needs his father’s guidance,” she said.
Oliver’s wife also testified, said in Spanish that she was worried about their 3-year-old son, who is autistic, and the boy’s future without his father at home. But the ex-officer of the half-sister testified against him, saying they felt compelled after listening to a testimony, and that she hoped he gets what he deserves.”
Edwards’ father told jurors late Wednesday, shortly after the decisive phase began, that his son always had a smile on his face and dreamed of playing football in Alabama.
Jury members began deliberations on the sentence Wednesday.
In a rare guilty verdict in a police shooting case, the Dallas County judges were not swayed by Oliver claims that he is protecting his partner when he shot in the car. His partner told jurors he did not fear for his life.
The shooting occurred after Oliver and his partner responded to a report of underage drinking at the party in Balch Springs in April 2017. The police initially said the vehicle carrying Edwards and his friends backed up in the direction of officers “in an aggressive way,” but the police later admitted that the bodycam video showed the vehicle was moving forward as officers approached.
Investigators said no weapons were found in the vehicle. Oliver was fired days after the shooting.
Cries echoed around the courtroom as the verdict was read Tuesday. Edwards’ family members sobbed and hugged the officer of justice, waved their hands in the air and cried, “Thank you, Jesus!”
The jury, which has two black members of the 12 jury members and two alternates, also acquitted Oliver on two lesser charges of aggravated assault resulting from the shooting.
It is extremely rare for police officers to be tried and convicted for murder for the shootings that took place while on duty. Only six non-federal police convicted of murder in such cases — and four of those convictions were set aside — since 2005, according to data compiled by the criminologist and Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson.
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