Local News

Fifteen Years Is Not Enough For Roy Oliver

It's a start, but we shouldn't have to grade on a curve.

From the candlelight vigil for Jordan Edwards at Virgil T. Irwin Park in Balch Springs. (Photo by Zac Crain)

Roy Oliver was convicted Tuesday for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Yesterday, the now former Balch Springs police officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison. More than likely, he’ll do half that. And so a bit of the relief — I don’t know if anyone would go so far as to call it joy — at Oliver’s conviction is now cut through with the shrugging cynicism of “of course he only got 15 years.”

It’s within eyesight of justice, but it is not justice. Not yet. Not until people like Oliver are convicted regularly — in Dallas County, for example, there have only been two convictions since 1973 — and then sentenced accordingly. Even if Oliver does all 15 years (he won’t), at best you can say, “Well, it’s a start.” And that is only if it actually turns out to be a start. Jordan was an extraordinary victim, impossible to besmirch in the usual ways, with out-of-context social media posts and conflation of tiny offenses into something deserving of death. What happens when it’s an unarmed 15-year-old who, say, once got into a couple of fights at school and liked to quote Gucci Mane songs on his Instagram stories? Can we convict the cop in that case? Can we do it again?

There are too many Trayvon Martins and Tamir Rices to be happy with this now.

When Oliver gets out, his 3-year-old son will likely be younger than Jordan Edwards was when he was murdered. Oliver won’t have the life he had, but he’ll still have a life. The sentence is better than it could have been — the defense was asking for two years, and that would have been like he wasn’t even convicted — but it is not enough. Charmaine and Odell Edwards deserved better. Jordan deserved better.