The death of a Black teen killed during an encounter with police over the weekend has been ruled a homicide, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Jordan Edwards, a freshman at Mesquite High School, was shot and killed by a Balch Springs police officer Saturday, April 29, as he and a group of friends were leaving a party. Edwards, a beloved star-student at his high school, was shot through the passenger’s side window with a rifle, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office. The fatal shooting will now be investigated by both the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s public integrity unit.
“We offer our sincere condolences to Jordan’s family and will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we move forward expeditiously with a commitment to justice and transparency,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said in a statement.
Family and friends of the slain 15-year-old were shocked to learn of his death. Jeff Fleener, a football coach at Mesquite High, said he was “crushed and heartbroken” when he learned that Edwards had been shot and killed. He described the young teen as a good kid with excellent grades who was never caught up in any trouble.
“The best thing in the world or the worst thing in the world would happen, and [Jordan] would smile and everything would be okay,” Fleener told The Dallas Morning News. “You create a checklist of everything you would want in a player, a son, a teammate, a friend — and Jordan had all that. He was that kid.”
According to Balch Springs police, officers heard gunshots as they responded to a report of drunken teenagers on a residential street in the 12300 block of Baron Drive around 11 p.m. Saturday night. That’s when Police Chief Jonathan Haber said the car Edwards was riding in backed down the road “in an aggressive manner” toward officers, prompting one of them to fire his gun.
“There was an unknown altercation with the vehicle backing down the road towards the officers in an aggressive manner,” according to a department press release. “An officer shot at the vehicle, striking a front seat passenger. The individual was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”
Balch Springs police haven’t released the identity of the officer involved but say he’s been placed on administrative leave, local station WFAA reported. Authorities didn’t release the name of the victim either, but friends quickly identified him as Edwards. No officers were hurt during the encounter.
Edwards’ parents have since called for justice in their son’s death and demanded that the officer who killed him be arrested and charged, attorney Lee Merritt said. Merritt disputes the police account of what happened that night, contending that the teen and his group of friends weren’t the ones police had been called about. He said the teens weren’t seen drinking either.
“Great kid. Awesome parents,” said parent Chris Cano, whose son played football with Edwards. “He was not a thug. This shouldn’t happen to him.”
In addition, the slain teen’s family has asked to see police body cam footage to gain a better understanding of how the deadly incident unfolded. One of Edward’s brothers was also riding in the car at the time of the shooting, according to WFAA.
Additional counselors were on hand at Mesquite High School Monday, a district spokeswoman said. An end-of-year ninth-grade exam also was pushed back until Tuesday, May 2.
“Mesquite ISD’s deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man who tragically lost his life late Saturday evening,” the district said in a statement. “He was a good student who was very well liked by his teachers, coaches and his fellow students. The entire district — especially the staff and students of Mesquite High School — are mourning this terrible loss.”