Dallas DA hopes conviction sends a message to ‘bad cops’

Former Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver, foreground left, stands next to defense attorney Miles Brissette, right, after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, at the Frank Crowley Courts Building, in Dallas. (Rose Baca/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Officials in Dallas are hopeful that tuesday’s conviction of the white former police officer who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last year will send a strong message to other officers who abuse their power.

“We want to say to people like Roy Oliver, if you go out and murder anybody, we’re committed to making certain that we prosecute people like that,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson told the Star-Telegram late Wednesday.

“And we won’t wait. We’re going to do exactly what we did with Roy Oliver.”

Johnson and her colleagues believe that prosecuting rogue officers like Oliver when they commit crimes is the only way the public will ever get to a place where they can trust all the good police officers out there again.

“We love our police,” Johnson says. “We trust them and know that they are committed to making sure that the people of Dallas County are safe, secured. We love them and support police. However, we do not support bad apples.”

Daryl Washington, an attorney for Jordan Edwards’ family, shares her sentiments and opined that Black children and teenagers in their community can feel a little safer now that officers will be held accountable.

“We believe that little boys and little girls are going to be able to go to teenager parties and feel like if they’re in danger, they can go to police officers and not run away from police officers,” Washington said.

Wednesday Oliver was sentenced to prison for 15 years, for shooting Edwards outside of a party last spring, and there have been mixed reactions to the length of the prison term. Johnson had pushed for 60 years and the Edwards family had hoped for more as well.

“(Oliver) can actually see life again after 15 years and that’s not enough, because Jordan can’t see life again,” Charmaine Edwards, Jordan’s stepmother, said.

Mothers Against Police Brutality released a statement that Oliver’s sentence wasn’t cause for celebration because others in his place usually receive much more severe punishments.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, of the more than 8,500 people in Texas serving time for murder, over half are serving sentences of more than 40 years, with only bout 9 percent are serving sentences of 10 to 20 years.

“Justice is not served when the murderer of Jordan Edwards, considering all the evidence presented at trial, should receive a sentence less than that of almost 90 percent of other murderers in this state,” the group maintains.

“If anything, Roy Oliver deserves a sentence longer than the average sentence for murder in Texas. … Oliver cut short the life of a promising young man, but in that act he has also shredded the social contract between law enforcement and the public and left it drenched in blood on a street in Balch Springs.”