Police change story on fatal shooting of Texas teen outside party

Posted at 8:06 AM, May 02, 2017

Police in a Dallas suburb have changed their story on the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a teenager outside a house party over the weekend.

Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber initially said a car was moving "aggressively" toward officers when one of them fired into it Saturday night, killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, but the chief told reporters Monday he "misspoke."

Haber said body camera footage of the incident showed the car was driving forward, away from the officers, not reversing toward them.

"I take responsibility for that," Haber said.

The officer's behavior "did not meet our core values," Haber said.


Officers broke up the house party in response to reports of under-aged drinking. One officer then fired a rifle into a vehicle as it was driving away from the party, fatally injuring the front-seat passenger.

Jordan died from a fatal wound to the head, according to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office. The freshman Mesquite High School student-athlete's death was ruled a homicide.

Police were looking for the owners of the house when shots were allegedly heard in the area, creating chaos right before Jordan was shot, according to Balch Springs Police Public Information Officer Oscar Gonzalez.

Haber declined to confirm whether any shots were confirmed to have been fired or whether the boys in the car were armed, citing the ongoing investigation.

The officer fired three shots into the car, Edwards family lawyer Lee Merritt told CNN, based on eyewitness accounts from the other boys in the car.

Jordan's 16-year-old brother and their three friends were detained at the scene and taken away from Jordan's wounded body to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, where they were eventually interviewed as witnesses. The boys were not arrested or charged, according to Merritt.

Jordan was transported to Baylor University hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries, according to a BSPD press release.

Sheriff's department conducting criminal investigation

The Dallas County Sheriff's Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting in tandem with the Public Integrity Unit from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the investigation.

The 6-year veteran of the Balch Springs police force who fired the fatal shot was placed on administrative leave, but has not been charged or arrested. His identity is not being released at this time, Haber said.

The officer had no similar prior incidents, Haber said, and BSPD is conducting a separate internal administrative review of the incident.

"The Balch Springs Police Department, regardless of how this whole thing turns out, we are here to serve this community," Haber said.

Haber met with Jordan's parents twice since his death, expressing condolences on behalf of the department and the city.

The Edwards family's lawyer will meet with the investigating parties this week on their behalf.

"We are declaring war on bad policing," Merritt said in a news conference held on behalf of the family Monday. "America throughout the country must figure out a way to police its citizens without killing them."

Family privately grieving

Jordan's family has not spoken publicly, wishing to grieve privately until after the funeral, Merritt told CNN. They saw Jordan's body for the first time late Monday night, he said.

Jordan will be remembered for his smile, those who knew him told reporters. Grief counselors were made available at Mesquite High School, because Edwards was such a well-known, well-liked member of the community, Merritt said.

"The entire district -- especially the staff and students of Mesquite High School -- are mourning this terrible loss," a Mesquite High School statement said.

A prayer vigil was held Monday night at the high school for the community. A funeral has not yet been scheduled, according to Merritt.