Calls for Balch Springs officer to be arrested unlikely to be met, experts say

A rising chorus of voices is calling for fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver to be arrested and charged with murder.

But legal experts said it would be extremely rare for an officer to be arrested before a grand jury sees any evidence.

Jordan Edwards, 15, was a passenger in a car when he was shot in the head with a rifle and killed by Oliver last Saturday night. The car Edwards was in was driving away from the officers when he was shot, not toward the officers as police initially claimed.

“It really is murder at the end of the day,” said State Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Duncanville).

The Texas Legislative Black Caucus joined other voices Thursday in calling the shooting a murder and wanting Oliver arrested.

Former Assistant D.A. Toby Shook has both vigorously prosecuted and defended police in officer shootings.

“Usually when a police officer is involved in a deadly shooting they refer it to the grand jury. They don’t make an arrest,” Shook said. “But there are some occasions where the D.A.'s office or the sheriff could say we're going to make an arrest just like any other case,” Shook said.

Though not involved in the Oliver case, Shook said the penal code gives wide latitude to officers who use deadly force while on duty.

“There’s a strong presumption that if a reasonable law enforcement officer in that position felt it necessary to immediately use deadly force … that’s the law,” Shook said.

While real life and rules of law sometimes collide, Shook feels people will collectively wait if Oliver is not arrested and the case is a grand jury referral.

“I think if it’s explained that’s the normal course of procedure, they'll be fine,” Shook said. “But this case has a lot more pressure than most demanding an arrest and that’s obviously because there's a 15-year-old boy that was doing nothing wrong that was killed.”

Oliver signed on with Balch Springs police in 2011, becoming badge No. 35.

While his most recent performance review shows above-average marks, what stands out on his disciplinary record is a 2013 DWI case in Frank Crowley Courts that left Oliver with a two-day suspension.

Documents from the suspension said:

"The D.A.'s office had a hard time getting you to report for court

You were angry that you had to be in court

Your language was so vulgar that the assistant D.A. had a young female intern leave the room

An assistant D.A. in the room with you sent a text message to another D.A. in the courtroom advising you were scaring them

While on the stand, the D.A. asked you a question. You responded with, "I don't understand the f---ing question."

Oliver's file indicates an overall good work ethic, but did note in 2014 Oliver had one documented incident of being disrespectful to a citizen.

Prior to Balch Springs PD, Oliver worked as a part-time Dalworthington Gardens police officer. Before that he worked in Dalworthington Gardens as a dispatcher and in public works. He served in the military 2004-2010, with at least one tour in Iraq.

He holds certifications in: crisis intervention, precision rifle - tactical patrol rifle, use of force, field training officer.

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