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.

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Comments

  • PJCTX

    I would want more than 15 years as a parent too. I think it is tougher with police officers to get really long sentences because the officers aren’t coming there with the intention of killing anyone. The cases very rarely (the exception being the murder in Chicago where the officer appeared just intent on showing up and killing the guy) evidence that situation. And there was some evidence here that the officer was reacting to something, so I suspect that came into play with sentencing. It’s definitely the right result, although perhaps not long enough. The officers in the Tamir Rice situation weren’t indicted by a grand jury, which is very different than here. And Trayvon Mitchell didn’t involved the police at all.

  • June

    No worries. He won’t survive prison. He has more charges to face, and he is truly living on borrowed time.

    I am incredibly impressed that Dallas County got a conviction in this case. All of the incidents along the East Coast and not a crumb of justice. This officer not only got convicted, but his partner, family and the DA’s office crossed the blue line to make that conviction possible. That is huge progress and should be lauded. Progress aint perfect, but this was a true step function of change.

    Prayers and love to the family. I can’t imagine the hurt and pain. He was such a beautiful kid and loved by so many people. May God continue to keep and comfort them all.