Jordan Edwards' parents at a news conference. Photo by Guy Reynolds/AP
Though some of its particulars are especially harrowing, the basic story of Jordan Edwards' murder is grimly familiar. Sitting in a car with his two brothers and two friends, he was killed last Saturday night in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs as they left a party where some kids were drinking because they worried "it was getting dangerous.” It was at least rowdy enough to prompt a call of drunken teens to police: As the boys began to drive away, police arrived on the scene, heard "what they believed were gunshots," and opened fire. Jordan, sitting in the passenger seat, was hit in the face and killed with a rifle shot from Officer Roy Oliver. His brothers watched him die - a death, insult to injury, that has become one more mournful, raging hashtag, but has been barely reported by mainstream media.
The initial statement by police said the teens' vehicle was backing toward officers "in an aggressive manner." But that story quickly changed: By Monday, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber admitted he “misspoke,” and that video evidence showed Oliver fired as the car was moving forward - ie: away from police. "I (was) unintentionally incorrect," he said. "I don’t believe (the shooting) met our core values.” Other damning details swiftly emerged: Neither Jordan nor any of his friends and brothers had been drinking, were armed, were the teens the police had been called about, or were doing anything other than trying to go safely home - all vital facts that, were they white, would likely argue they didn't deserve to die. Oliver - who it turns out had an erratic history of excessive force and "a short fuse" - was quickly fired. He has now been charged with murder; he is also being sued by Jordan's father.
Jordan is the 82nd black person killed by police this year - black teens are 21 times more likely to meet that fate than their white peers - and the youngest. His is perhaps the most egregious shooting in a Trump reign strewn with issues of police abuses: Even as Michael Slager pleads guilty to shooting Walter Scott in Charleston, Sessions' Justice (sic) Department has tried and failed to roll back post-Freddie-Gray reforms in Baltimore, declined to charge Alton Sterling's killer, and stonewalls vital reform efforts as bad for police morale. Jordan was also the infamous "perfect victim," a freshman honor student, popular football player and "kid who did everything right." At his funeral this weekend, teachers called him "the kid you wanted in your class," who "demonstrated that America has a bright future,” who "exemplified love and hope." But even if he got lousy grades or struggled in life, say angry critics who challenge the good-kid narrative, Jordan's life mattered. Insists "
abuses: S. Lee Merritt, Jordan's family's lawyer, argues, “America must figure out a way to police its citizens without killing them.” Given the too-frequent oxymoron of "good police" - Jordan was "not killed by a bad apple. Just an apple" - they argue deeply racist police institutions must teach "the idea of black as human." But police exist within a likewise racist culture, where mere time is often a privilege reserved for white people.Thus, writes Jason Parham: the "gruesome paradox"of Jordan Edwards' death: "Even when you do everything right and play by the rules of the white world, the senseless ruin of history in which you were born into still swallows your body whole."ullets, batons, battery, and a history of injustices." "Philando Castile. I can't stand no more!" roared Pastor M.L. Dorsey at Jordan's funeral. He went on with a pained litany - Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Walter Scott - before ending with, "Jordan Edwards. I can't stand no more!" Some critics focus on police
Jordan's cousin posts his own picture of the death on Twitter.