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Sadness And Anger After Police Shoot And Kill Unarmed Black Teen In Texas


In Texas today, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards will be buried. The African-American teenager was killed a week ago by Police Officer Roy Oliver who fired his rifle into a car driving away from a house party. Jordan Edwards, an unarmed passenger in that car, died from a shot to the head as four teenagers, including two of his brothers, watched. Oliver has been charged with murder, arrested and released on bail. Bill Zeeble of member station KERA in Dallas reports on events following the shooting.

BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: In Dallas and the nearby suburb of Balch Springs, there have been tears, press conferences and vigils since the Saturday-night shooting. On Wednesday, dozens gathered at a multi-faith prayer vigil in Dallas' Agape Church. Imam Omar Suleiman's prayer to God expressed anger and frustration.


OMAR SULEIMAN: And we are not angry with you, and we do not accuse you of showing any lack of mercy to us. But we complain to you of the lack of mercy on the part of some of your creation.

ZEEBLE: Cornell William Brooks, who heads the national NAACP, attended the service and said there have been too many police shootings of young African-Americans.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS: We will not give our permission to the continued brutality of our children. So be prepared for unrest in the most constructive sense of the word but also in the most disruptive sense of the word unless we get reform.

ZEEBLE: Demands for reforming the Balch Springs Police Department were largely muted this week. While Police Chief Jonathan Haber had said the car was backing up aggressively toward police, a day later, after reviewing body cam footage, he retracted his statement. The next day, he addressed the situation.


JONATHAN HABER: The investigation is complete. After reviewing the findings, I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver with the Balch Springs Police Department.

ZEEBLE: Activist Ernest Walker praised the chief's quick action.


ERNEST WALKER: I have never heard a chief admit that he made a mistake recently when dealing with shootings. But this chief has integrity and he's done that. And yes, Balch Springs has stepped up to the plate and showed other cities how a process like this should take place.

ZEEBLE: The Edwards family was quick to ask that there be no protests this week. Near the Balch Springs police headquarters, Sarita Roberts sits on a bench by a duck pond as her kids play nearby.

SARITA ROBERTS: I am concerned for my children. I do have faith in some police officers. You know, there's always good ones and bad ones. I just wish they had a better method of weeding out the bad ones.

ZEEBLE: Roberts acknowledges police have stressful jobs but thinks they should be held to a higher standard. She has seven children, ranging from age 3 to 22. As she lists them, she starts to cry.

ROBERTS: I'm still not through it. I'm not 'cause I have two young boys here. They're going to grow up.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #1: What about two young girls?

ROBERTS: Oh, and my young girls (laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL #2: (Unintelligible) To me.

ZEEBLE: Are you worried more about your boys than your girls?

ROBERTS: Yeah because they're considered a threat, I guess, because of the color of their skin.


ROBERTS: I just pray things get better. I just pray that things get better.

ZEEBLE: The town of Balch Springs has been calm this week. After Jordan Edwards is buried, activists here say they plan to march early next week. For NPR News, I'm Bill Zeeble in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues. Heâââ

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