The family of the Texas cop fired after shooting an unarmed 15-year-old honor student is blaming the tragic death on the cop’s post-traumatic stress disorder from serving two tours in the Iraq war.
Statements about his mental health possibly reveals clues about his intended defense if former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver ever gets criminally charged.
His mother, Linda Oliver, says her son is an honorable family man who would never have endangered Jordan Edwards because her son has two toddlers of his own.
“‘He’s a wonderful family man and father. He has two precious little ones himself,” she told the Daily Mail.
“He is very honorable, very community-driven,” Oliver continued.
However, the car Edwards was riding passenger in when he was killed was driving away from police when he opened fire with his AR-15.
Police say they had ordered it to stop, but the driver of the car, Edwards’ older brother, may not have even heard their commands because he didn’t realize anything was wrong until he saw smoke coming out of his brother’s head a block later, which was when he stopped the car and flagged down police for help.
“He was raised to consider more than just himself, to think about the community, and I’ve very proud of him and the choices he’s made,” his mother said.
However, Edwards’ parents were also proud of their son, a freshman who played football and maintained good grades. He was loved by his coaches and teachers, according to CNN.
Oliver says she has compassion for the tragedy suffered by the Edwards family, but said she will withhold judgement of her son until all the facts come out.
“I retired from educating so I could have easily had him as a student at one point,” she said. “Other than that I really can’t say much.”
The Texas police department initially claimed the car 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was riding in was driving in an “aggressive manner” towards police, which is why Oliver had to fire into the car.
Without even bothering to watch the body cam footage, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber called a press conference and gave the media the same spiel.
But Haber fired Oliver two days later after viewing body cam footage, which showed the car was actually driving away from police.
Now, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office is deciding whether or not to file charges against Oliver who they witnessed behaving aggressively and irrationally, even calling him “scary person.”
In 2013, Oliver was suspended for 16 hours after a complaint was filed by a Dallas County District Attorney over his behavior in the courtroom while he served as a witness to a DWI case where he used obscene, profane language during testimony.
“You were a scary person to have in our workroom,” former Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris wrote after deciding to uphold his suspension when Oliver appealed.
While the public is catching on to systemic issues, which make it nearly impossible to fire a cop, even when they curse during witness testimony in trial, the discussion about the militarization of cops in the U.S. has focused on war-grade artillery, militarized SWAT teams and heavier-than-necessary war-grade vehicles, many are not aware of the debate over whether hiring cops recently returning from war zones is a good idea.
Police work is the third most common occupations for veterans followed by truck driving and management, according to Lewis and Rahul Pathak of Georgia State University for The Marshall Project, who analyzed U.S. Census data.
In 2012, the Obama administration provided tens of millions of dollars in incentives for departments around the country for hiring military veterans as police officers, often waiving college education requirements for veterans who served at least three years in the military.
Three years prior to that, Obama’s Justice Department, along with the Associations of Chiefs of Police issued a warning in 2009 to departments around the country.
“Sustained operations under combat circumstances may cause returning officers to mistakenly blur the lines between military combat situations and civilian crime situations, resulting in inappropriate decisions and actions — particularly in the use of less lethal or lethal force.”
While the Obama administration’s incentives to employ veterans were likely well-intended, the enticement has left the public served by military vets with unintended consequences.
For every 100 cops with military experience in the Boston Police Department, 28 percent had excessive use of force complaints filed against them between 2010 and 2015, according to the Marshall Project.
But only 17 percent of cops with no military experience had complaints filed against them.
For Miami cops, 14 percent of military veterans had excessive use of force complaints filed against them compared to 11 percent without military service experience.
Below you can read the Justice Department’s guide, which sent out a nationwide warning about the dangers of hiring soldiers returning from combat to perform job duties working with civilians in non-combat areas.