Officer who fatally shot teen had once been suspended
DALLAS (AP) - Records show that a white Texas police officer who was fired for fatally shooting a black teenager was briefly suspended in 2013 following a complaint about his conduct while serving as a witness in a drunken-driving case.
Personnel records from the Balch Springs, Texas, Police Department obtained Thursday by The Associated Press show former officer Roy Oliver was suspended for 16 hours in December 2013 after the Dallas County District Attorney's Office filed the complaint. Oliver also was ordered to take training courses in anger management and courtroom demeanor and testimony.
The Dallas County attorney's office now is investigating the shooting Saturday night in which Oliver fired a rifle at a car of teenagers leaving a party, striking and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
About 200 people attended a vigil in Balch Springs on Thursday night to honor the teen's memory and protest his death.
Messages left with a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, a police spokesman and a lawyer for Oliver were not immediately returned Thursday.
The personnel records also included periodic evaluations that noted at least one instance when Oliver was reprimanded for being "disrespectful to a civilian on a call." That evaluation, dated January 27, 2017, called the reprimand an isolated incident and urged Oliver to be mindful of his leadership role in the department.
The complaint from the prosecutor's office said the office had a hard time getting Oliver to attend the trial, he was angry he had to be there, he used vulgar language that caused an assistant district attorney to send a female intern out of the room, and he used profanity during his testimony.
"In an email from one of the prosecutors he states you were a 'scary person to have in our workroom,'" then-Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris wrote in the suspension findings.
Oliver joined the Balch Springs department in 2011 after being an officer with the Dalworthington Gardens Police Department for almost a year. A statement from Dalworthington Gardens officials late Wednesday included some details of that and previous intermittent employment as a dispatcher and public works employee between 1999 and 2004.
The statement said he received an award for "meritorious conduct" as a dispatcher and there were no documented complaints or disciplinary action in either his work as a public safety officer or dispatcher. Between his employment as a dispatcher and officer in the Dallas suburb, he was in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of sergeant while serving two tours in Iraq and earning various commendations. He served for two years in the Texas National Guard reserves through 2012.
After the Dallas County Attorney's Office complained about Oliver's behavior, Morris suspended the officer for 16 hours, which Oliver completed by forfeiting two sick days.
Heath Harris, the former first assistant district attorney under Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, said he did not remember the incident or which of the many courts might have been involved.
"I don't think that it will impact this investigation at all, other than the fact that it's something that clearly the defense will try to use," Harris said. "But DA (Faith) Johnson has already stated that the investigation by the public integrity unit will be independent and based solely on the facts of the shooting."
Edwards and his two brothers and two other teenagers were driving away from an unruly house party in Balch Springs late Saturday night when Oliver opened fire on their vehicle with a rifle. The bullets shattered the front passenger-side window and struck Edwards. Oliver was fired Tuesday for violating department policies.
It took a few moments for Edwards' 16-year-old brother, who was driving, and other passengers to notice that he was slumped over in his seat.
Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Juan A. Lozano contributed to this report.