Roy Oliver, a former Balch Springs police officer facing a murder charge in the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwars, testified Thursday that he had no option but to use lethal force when he fired into a moving vehicle carrying five teenagers in April 2017.
After the prosecution rested Thursday morning, Oliver took the stand.
The first hour of Oliver's testimony centered on his life story and time in the Army and in Iraq. When it came to the night of April 29th, 2017, Oliver testified about his decision to fire into a car full of teenagers who were leaving a house party. Oliver and Officer Tyler Gross were there to break up the party when they heard gunshots outside in the neighborhood.
"I hear Gross, I’m running, I’m not looking as broad left and right," said Oliver. "I’m focused on Gross, his mannerisms, his actions, his voice to figure out what is he locked onto, what is he going after? Why is he going after it? The only reason I think he’s going after it is active shooters, he’s got them located. We’ve got to stop the vehicle."
The teens in the vehicle turned out to be unarmed and were not involved in the shots fired in the neighborhood.
"It’s sickening," said Oliver when asked how he felt after the shooting. "This was a bad situation that got turned worse by the second. People all around that could have prevented this whole --- it’s just a very gut wrenching experience and knowing that you were forced into a position to take a life."
Thursday marks a week since the trial began. Prosecuters rested their case in the morning. Defense attorney Bob Gill offered an opening statement, asking the jury to consider only what Oliver knew at the time of the shooting.
"What happened out there on April 29th 2017, happened in a split second. You’re going to have to decide based upon the circumstances you know now whether Roy Oliver was reasonable during that time,” said Gill. “You have to look at that from Roy Oliver’s point of view at the time. From Roy Oliver, not anybody else. Was it reasonable from Roy Oliver’s perspective - not what we all know now, but what roy oliver knew at the time?"
On April 29, 2017 Oliver and a second officer were breaking up a large teenage house party when they heard shots outside. Prosecutors say those shots came from another group who pulled into a nearby nursing home parking lot and left.
Officers, investigating the shots fired, confronted a vehicle leaving the house party. Five unarmed teens were in the vehicle. Oliver shot into the car and killed Edwards, who was in the front passenger seat.
Oliver’s defense said he used deadly force because he believed the driver was trying to run over another officer at the scene. That officer, Tyler Gross, has testified he did not believe his life was in danger.