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A former Texas police officer was found guilty of murder on Tuesday for shooting into a car carrying a group of teenagers, killing a 15-year-old boy.
Roy Oliver, who is white, was found guilty in the death of high school freshman Jordan Edwards, who was black. The teen was in the passenger seat of a car leaving a house party when the officer opened fire in April 2017. Oliver was found not guilty on two aggravated assault charges.
Jordan’s father, Odell Edwards, said after that he wanted to “jump up and down” when he heard the verdict and was “thankful.”
“I’m happy, very happy. It’s been a long time, a hard year,” he said.
The verdict came Tuesday afternoon on the second day of deliberations. The jury was made up of 10 women — five white, three Hispanic and two black — and two white men.
Roughly 20 minutes before a verdict was announced, jurors sent a note asking what happens if they were split on justification of the shooting, according to NBC DFW.
Since 2005, only 33 law enforcement officers have been convicted of a crime resulting from an on-duty shooting where someone was killed — and Oliver is only the second to be convicted of murder, said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University.
The other officers were convicted of charges including manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and official misconduct. Overall, about 93 law enforcement officers have been arrested for murder or manslaughter from an on-duty fatal shooting since 2005, Stinson said.
Oliver, who was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department in the Dallas suburbs after the shooting, testified last week that he felt he had no choice but to use deadly force.
He said he fired on the car after seeing it move toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, and thinking the officer’s life was in danger. But Gross previously testified that he did not fear for his life and didn’t feel the need to fire his weapon.
Officers had been dispatched to the house party in Balch Springs on a call of underage drinking late April 29, 2017.
Oliver testified that while he was at the home, he heard gunshots outside and believed there was a shooter. As he went outside, he saw the car carrying the five unarmed teenagers.
The gunshots turned out to have been fired near a nursing home in the area.
Jeremy Seaton, a witness who had attended the same house party, testified earlier that it didn’t appear that the car the teens were in was trying to hit the officer.
“We were just kids leaving a party,” Maximus Everette, 15, who was in the back seat with his twin brother, Maxwell, said last year in an interview with NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We shouldn’t have to fear the police when our parents teach us to respect them,” Maximus told the station. “So I don’t see why they would fear just kids leaving a party.”
Oliver was hired in 2011. In 2013, he was suspended and required to take anger management classes after having erupted in a courtroom. He was angry because he had to attend court, according to personnel files obtained by NBC News.