Gasps echoed across the courtroom as a Dallas jury found former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder Tuesday afternoon in the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
However, the jury found Oliver, 38, not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault for shooting into a car carrying five unarmed teens in April 2017. Edwards was the front seat passenger in the vehicle and was shot in the back of the head. He died at the scene.
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After the verdict was read, Edwards' relatives sobbed, hugged prosecutors and exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus!"
It took the jury 13 hours of deliberation, which started just before 12 p.m. Monday, to come to its verdict. Jurors met until about 8 p.m. Monday before they were sent to a hotel and sequestered for the night.
The verdict was read around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The trial stretched for eight days, beginning Aug. 16 and the sentencing phase is set to continue Wednesday. During deliberations, the jury sent several notes to the judge, including two on Tuesday.
The first Tuesday note asked for a transcript of some of Oliver's testimony, saying jurors were in dispute about whether Oliver said the sound of car glass breaking factored into his decision to shoot.
A second note Tuesday asked for a copy of a written statement Oliver provided after the shooting. The statement was not admitted in court and jurors were asked to continue deliberations without it.
The sentencing phase of the trial continued through Tuesday evening and will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Prosecutors called friends and family of Edwards to the stand. Jurors heard Edwards was a good student, a role model and leader at school.
Edwards father told the jury his family, especially Jordan's young siblings have not been the same since the shooting.
"They don't eat like they used to, they take two or three bites and that's it," said Odell Edwards through tears. "They don't sleep like they used to."
Edwards mother also testified about the missing piece in the family, then thanked jurors for the guilty verdict.
"So many times that you see on the TV that this has happened and nothing ever happens. It's like it happens, they justify it and the police just walk away and don't have to give an account for anything," Charmaine Edwards told the jury. "And I'm forever grateful that y'all saw it in your hearts to see that it was wrong. I'm thankful."
Edwards cried as she turned to the jurors.
"It doesn't bring Jordan back, but we have some kind of closure," she added.
Outside the courtroom, lawyers for the Edwards family said prosecutors sent a message in choosing to prosecute Oliver.
"We don't ever want another parent, another father, to go through what this family had to deal with," said Edwards' family civil attorney Daryl K. Washington.
Oliver shot and killed Edwards on April 29, 2017, as Oliver and another officer, Tyler Gross, broke up a teenage house party. When the officers heard shots fired while they were breaking up the party, Gross zeroed in on a Chevy Impala that was leaving the house.
Oliver's defense said he used deadly force because he believed the driver of the Impala was trying to hit Gross. During the trial, Gross testified he did not believe his life was in danger.
"It doesn't matter that looking back on it, in hindsight, we'd all make a different decision now," said Oliver's attorney Bob Gill. "We have to look at it how Roy Oliver saw it at the time and what he saw was a significant threat to his partner."
Edwards was a student at Mesquite High School. After the verdict was read, Mesquite ISD said it extended its support to the Edwards family.
"Mesquite ISD is focused on meeting the emotional needs of our students and staff members as they cope with the many feelings stirred by the case surrounding Jordan Edwards' death. Our unwavering support and compassion extends to Jordan's family during this difficult time, and Jordan's memory will continue to hold special meaning for Mesquite High School and our entire community."
Shortly after the verdict was read, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about the decision.
The jury, made up 10 women and two men, also had the option to find Oliver guilty of manslaughter if it could not come to a decision on the murder charge.
"This case is not just about Jordan. It's about Tamir Rice. It's about Walter Scott. It's about Alton Sterling," Washington said. "It's about every unarmed African American who has been killed and who has not gotten justice."
According to NBC 5's media partner The Dallas Morning News, the last time an on-duty police officer was convicted of murder in North Texas was in 1973.
In that case, Dallas police officer Darrell L. Cain shot and killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez, Russian roulette-style, during an interrogation over a vending machine burglary.
It's extremely rare for police officers to be tried and convicted of murder for shootings that occurred while they were on duty. Not including Oliver, only five non-federal police officers had been convicted of murder -- and four of those were overturned -- since 2005, according to data compiled by criminologist and Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson.
Ahead of the trial, experts noted that securing convictions against officers were challenging, in part because criminal culpability in on-duty shootings is subjective and jurors are more inclined to believe police testimony.
Cofounder of Mothers Against Police Brutality John Fullinwider said this means a great deal to advancing the national conversation about police brutality.
“For an old peace and justice warrior like myself it means a lot. There are many cases that deserved a trial and never got one,” Fullinwider said. “It means a lot to me and it means a lot to this movement. It’s something that we can build off of.”