Body cam footage contradicts officer’s claims in shooting death of teen, police chief says

Jordan Edwards

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Jordan Edwards

Body camera footage in the death of a 15-year-old boy at the hands of a police officer contradicts the officer’s claims about what happened when the teenager was shot, a Texas police chief said Monday.

Jordan Edwards, of Mesquite, was killed Saturday night as he and several friends, including his 16-year-old brother, were leaving a house party in Balch Springs, a suburb of Dallas. Balch Springs police Chief Jonathan Haber initially said the officer fired on the teens' car when it backed "in an aggressive manner" toward officers responding to a 911 call about possible underage drinking.

Haber reversed course at a Monday afternoon news conference, saying that the camera footage told a different story, according to the Dallas Morning News. Edwards' brother was driving away when the officer fired on the car, striking Edwards once in the head.

Edwards’ brother pulled over when he and the other teens realized that he’d been shot and flagged down an approaching patrol car for help. The high school freshman was pronounced dead at a local hospital from what the medical examiner confirmed was a rifle wound to the forehead.

"It did not meet our core values," Haber said of the officer's actions.

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In a revised statement released Monday, the department said officers were inside the house where the party was held when they heard multiple gunshots from outside. When they investigated the gunshots, they saw a car backing into the road.

The driver of the car continued to back into the road despite multiple verbal commands to stop, the department said. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Edwards family, said over the weekend that Edwards' brother was backing out of his parking spot when he heard someone shouting profanities at him.

Before he could respond, the officer opened fire, Merritt said.

The teens were leaving the party to get away from a potentially dangerous situation, the attorney said.

Merritt also held a news conference Monday afternoon, flanked by Edwards' parents, Charmaine and Odell Edwards. The News reported that the boy's parents sat silently, wiping tears from their eyes, as Merritt talked about the death of their son, a popular honor student and football player at Mesquite High School.

"We've heard excuses before in the past," Merritt said, according to the newspaper. "'You know why it happens, because the dads aren't present.' That excuse isn't here. Or 'The kid was violent.' That excuse isn't here."

The family is seeking justice for their son, including criminal charges against the officer who killed him. The officer, who has not been identified, is on administrative leave.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the shooting.

Residents in the neighborhood where the boy was shot told the News that about 100 teens were at the party. One woman said her son called police to check out the party out of concern that there could be underage drinking going on.

The mother of the boy who threw the party said her son told her there was no drinking at the party, the News reported.

Neighbors said they heard three or four shots from what sounded like a handgun. After a pause, they heard at least three shots from what sounded like a rifle.

Haber told the media that the footage from officers’ body cameras would not be released while the investigation continues. Pausing several times to collect himself during the news conference, he again offered his condolences to the Edwards family.

"My heart just gets beat," Haber said about the teen's death. "If there's something to be learned here, we can all learn it together and move forward together and find solutions how to fix what the problem is."

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