DALLAS (CBS News/AP) — A white former Texas police officer has been found guilty of murder on Tuesday for as he left a house party in a car full of teenagers.
Roy Oliver was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department days after the April 2017 shooting. Oliver killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards after the then-officer fired into a moving car carrying five black teenagers leaving a local house party. Edwards was in the front passenger seat.
Oliver was found not guilty of lesser charges manslaughter and aggravated assault, CBS DFW reports.
Oliver testified during the Dallas County trial that he opened fire after seeing the car move toward his partner. He says he thought his partner was in danger. But his partner told jurors he didn’t fear for his life and never felt the need to fire his weapon.
The shooting launched the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs into a national conversation on issues of law enforcement and race. Experts said ahead of the trial that securing convictions against an officer was challenging, in part because criminal culpability in on-duty shootings is subjective and jurors are more inclined to believe police testimony.
In closing arguments, defense attorneys told the jury they needed to evaluate the circumstances from Oliver’s viewpoint and from what the former officer knew at the time. But prosecutors described Oliver as out of control and looking for a reason to kill. They argued that his firing into the car wasn’t reasonable.
The shooting came after Oliver and his partner, Tyler Gross, had broken up a large house party following a report of underage drinking. Both officers were inside the residence when they heard gunfire outside and responded. Authorities later determined the shots were fired near a nursing home in the area.