A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot by police Saturday night on a residential street in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs.
By Sunday, two versions of what prompted the shooting had reached the public.
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Edwards’ family, has challenged the police account of Saturday night’s fatal shooting, which alleges the five teens inside the car were not driving aggressively, but backing out of a parking space.
“Another family ripped apart by police brutality,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday. “There was absolutely no justification for this murder. We demand justice!”
In a phone interview with The Washington Post Sunday night, Merritt said Edwards, his 16-year-old brother and three other teen boys were at a party on Baron Drive when they learned that police were on the way.
They went to the car parked outside and saw flashlights and heard gunshots, Merritt said. As they climbed into the car, the teens apparently heard somebody yell profanities. Then they were being fired upon.
They fled for about a block, Merritt said, before they noticed there was smoke coming from Edwards’ head. The driver of the car, the boy’s older brother, stopped the car and they flagged down an approaching police cruiser for help.
According to reporting from the NBC affiliate in Dallas, all Balch Springs squad cars have dash cameras and officers wear body cameras. Merritt said he was told there is body camera footage of the incident and that it has been turned over to the sheriff’s office.
Balch Springs police chief Jonathan Haber told reporters at a news conference Sunday afternoon that officers dispatched to the 12300 block of Baron Drive in Balch Springs after receiving a 911 call at 11 p.m. reporting several drunken teens walking the neighborhood.
Once officers arrived, they heard gunshots, Haber said. In what police described as an “unknown altercation,” a vehicle then began “backing down the street toward the officers in an aggressive manner.” One officer shot at the vehicle, Haber said, striking the front seat passenger.
Family later identified the passenger as high school freshman Jordan Edwards.
Edwards, 15, was transported to a hospital where he died.
The officer, whose name has not been released, was placed on administrative duty. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are conducting their own investigations into the shooting, and the Balch Springs police department will oversee an internal investigation.
“On behalf of the entire Balch Springs Police Department and the city of Balch Springs we express our sincere condolences with the family,” Haber said during the news conference. “I have reached out and personally met and spoken with the parents and expressed my condolences as well.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Katie Mettler