A former police officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs was found guilty of murder Tuesday in the shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teen who was a passenger in a car that had left a party.
The Dallas County, Texas, jury convicted Roy Oliver of murder but found him not guilty of two lesser charges in the honor student’s death.
Edwards’ family rejoiced after the guilty verdict was read, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.
The sentencing phase began after the verdict and will resume Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors told jurors that Edwards did not deserve to die. “This innocent kid was not doing anything wrong, nothing,” said prosecutor Mike Snipes, according to KTVT.
The officer opened fire out of fear for his partner’s safety, the defense contended.
Oliver, who is white, “discharged multiple rounds from his patrol rifle as the vehicle drove past him” on April 29, according to an arrest warrant. One bullet struck Jordan as the teenager rode in the car with the group, including two brothers.
The five were driving away from a house party after reportedly hearing shots. Jordan, an honor student and standout athlete at Mesquite High School, near Dallas, died from a fatal gunshot wound to the head, the Dallas County medical examiner’s office said.
Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber fired Oliver, a 6-year veteran of the department, shortly after the shooting, with the department saying the officer “violated several departmental policies.” Oliver has a right to appeal the firing, the department said after his dismissal.
The firing of Oliver on May 2 came a day after Haber admitted he “misspoke” when he said the car Jordan was in was moving “aggressively” toward police – leading one officer to fire his rifle toward the car.
Haber later said the body camera footage showed the car was driving forward – away from the officers, not reversing towards them.
At the time of Oliver’s arrest, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said the arrest warrant was issued because evidence suggested Oliver “intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of an individual.”
The shooting death of Edwards was one of several deaths of black males at the hands of police nationwide. The deaths have spawned protests and fueled a national conversation on police conduct.
CNN’s Jessica Suerth contributed to this report.