April 29, 2017
Age at Death:
Jordan "J-Money" Edwards was a freshman at Mesquite High School at the time of his death. He was an excellent student, with a 4.0 GPA. He was in choir, played football and basketball. He is survived by his father, Odell Edwards, his step mother, Charmaine Edwards, an older brother, Vidal and one other brother. His family described him as a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit. The bond that he shared with his family, particularly his siblings, was indescribable. The Mesquite Football team continued to honor Mr. Edwards in the three years following his death as they competed in his memory. His football coach described him as "...a coach’s dream. He was exactly the type of kid that you want in a program. He was always in a great mood."
Mr. Edwards, a 15-year-old African American boy, was fatally shot by a police officer in Balch Springs, Texas (in Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex). Per initial reports, the officers were responding around 11:00 p.m. to a 911 call "reporting several underage kids drunk walking around" at a party of approximately 100 people. Upon arrival, the officers allegedly heard gunshots, which created panic and caused party-goers to flee. One officer fired three rifle rounds into a vehicle, striking Mr. Edwards in the head and killing him. Along with Mr. Edwards, the car contained two of his brothers and two friends. Mr. Edwards's 16-year-old brother was driving the car. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Mr. Edwards's family said the officer shot through the front passenger side window. Mr. Edwards was pronounced dead at a local hospital. According to police, Edwards's brother was held in police custody overnight for the purpose of questioning him as a witness. Police originally said there was an "unknown altercation with a vehicle backing down the street towards the officers in an aggressive manner". After reviewing body cam footage, the police chief later admitted that the vehicle was not moving toward the officers, but rather away from them. The chief said he "misspoke." A later statement by the police department said, "The vehicle then pulled forward as the officer continued to approach the vehicle giving verbal commands. The vehicle continued [on] the main roadway driving away from the officer as an officer shot into the vehicle striking the passenger." He was unarmed during the encounter. The officer was fired from the department and arrested on May 5, 2017. On August 28, 2018, he was found guilty of murder. Next day, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Was justice served?
Yes and No. Crucial to the guilty decision was the body camera footage from the officer, whose defense was he felt his partner's life was threatened. His partner testified he never feared for himself. While the officer was found guilty, a 15 year sentence is not justice for taking the 15 year old life of Mr. Edwards, by all accounts, an exemplary young man. In 2020, an appeals court upheld the officer's conviction and sentencing of 15 years and $10,000 fine.