Prosecutors in Texas Weigh Murder Charges for Former Police Officer

According to Army officials at the Pentagon, Mr. Oliver served in Iraq from October 2004 to September 2005, and again in 2009 from January to November. He was an infantryman who received Army commendation and good conduct medals.

Ms. Oliver recalled that during her son’s time in Iraq, a suicide attacker set off an explosion at a military mess tent that killed 22 people in Mosul in 2004. “That was his mess tent,” Ms. Oliver said, referring to her son. “Luckily, he was not on the base at the time.”

The Edwards family and African-American leaders in the Dallas area have demanded Mr. Oliver’s arrest on murder charges. The shooting is the subject of a Dallas County criminal inquiry led by the Sheriff’s Department and the public-integrity unit of the district attorney’s office. A lawyer for the Edwards family, S. Lee Merritt, said on Twitter Mr. Oliver was appealing his termination, adding, “Let that sink in.”

Mr. Merritt and black leaders, including the N.A.A.C.P. president, Cornell William Brooks, gathered in Dallas on Wednesday for a prayer vigil and a “direct action” training session. Organizers are calling for all officers involved to be fired and charged and for all dashboard-camera and body-camera footage to be released to the public.

Late Saturday night, the police said, they responded to a 911 call reporting that drunken juveniles were wandering the block. Dozens of teenagers, many of them students at Mesquite High School, had crowded into a house on Baron Drive for a party given by a teenager whose mother was not at home at the time. Officers arrived, discovered the large party and entered the house trying to locate the owners. The police said officers then heard multiple gunshots coming from outside the residence, causing a chaotic scene of teenagers fleeing.

Officers left the house to investigate the gunfire and confronted a car backing down the street. The police said the vehicle continued to reverse despite verbal commands to stop. Then the car pulled forward as Mr. Oliver continued to approach it and give verbal commands. The car drove away from Mr. Oliver as he shot into it, striking Jordan, who was in the front passenger seat, the police said.

“From our policies, which I went by, there were violations,” said Chief Haber, declining to elaborate. “I acted on them.”

The shooting has tested Chief Haber and the small police department of Balch Springs, a working-class city of 25,000 east of Dallas. Chief Haber had to publicly backtrack from his initial description of the shooting. He first announced that the car was reversing aggressively toward the officers when the shooting occurred, but later said the body-camera footage showed a different scene. The car initially reversed but then accelerated forward, and it was being driven away from Mr. Oliver when he opened fire, the police said.

On Tuesday, the chief admitted that he had “missed a step” in the rush to provide information.

The chief was praised by two black civil rights activists who stood behind him at a news conference on Tuesday: the Rev. Ronald Wright and Ernest Walker.

Mr. Wright said Chief Haber’s handling of the situation was providing a model for other departments around the country. “Balch Springs has reacted immediately to it and took action the way they should have,” he told reporters.

Several experts on police accountability said Chief Haber had managed a difficult situation well, even with the abrupt shift in the official account of the shooting.

“As soon as he found out the information was not accurate, he got out there very quickly and corrected the information,” said Hassan Aden, a former police chief in Greenville, N.C., who is now a consultant on police issues.

Locally, Chief Haber’s officers have been criticized for their handling of the case. The Edwards family, in a statement, said the police mistreated those in the car — Jordan’s two brothers and two friends — after the shooting. Some or all of them were “manhandled, intimidated and arrested,” the family said, urging reprimands for those officers.

Since 2004, a number of people have sued the Balch Springs police in federal court for excessive force, harassment, false arrest and other allegations. Many of the cases were eventually dismissed.

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Source: New York Times

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