Police story about why they gunned down an unarmed Black ninth grader falls apart
Camera footage reveals car was not driving in “an aggressive manner.”
(CREDIT: Twitter with photo of Jordan Edwards)
By E.A. Crunden
Police now say the car carrying a Black ninth grader was driving away from them when they shot into it, rather than towards them.
At a press conference on Monday, Jonathan Haber, the police chief for the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas, walked back earlier comments made by the police department about the killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The vehicle, Haber told the Associated Press, was “moving forward as the officers approached,” rather than moving backwards towards officers.
Edwards, a freshman football player at Mesquite High School, was leaving a house party over the weekend when he was fatally shot by police. Accounts of the story initially differed, with police officers asserting that Edwards and his companions had backed down the driveway “in an aggressive manner” towards them. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Edwards’ family, contradicted those claims, telling the Washington Post that the car was fired on without provocation.
A medical examiner concluded Edwards was killed with a rifle and ruled the death a homicide, though no charges were issued at the time.
Balch Springs squad cars are outfitted with cameras, and police officers are required to wear body cameras. A review of the footage resulted in Haber’s comments on Monday, seeming to corroborate Merritt’s version of events. “It did not meet our core values,” Haber said of the incident.
Merritt welcomed the update while emphasizing the need for further investigation.
“There were no weapons involved; there was no aggressive behavior; these were not suspects,” Merritt told the New York Times. “The lone motive they had for the murder was that the vehicle was being used as a weapon, and now that is no longer there.” But the admission in no way countered the severity of the action, a point Merritt underscored.
“They have a dead child, they have the identity of the shooter, and they have no explanation for the shooting,” he said. “They have more than sufficient probable cause to make an arrest.”
An investigation into the shooting has been launched by both the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s public-integrity unit, and the officer who shot Edwards has been placed on administrative leave. Merritt has said the Edwards family wants the officer fired from his position and formally charged.