Experts: Convicting ex-officer a tough case
HOUSTON — Authorities who’ve charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager’s death face a tough task in getting a conviction as few of these cases go to trial and, when they do, juries remain reluctant to second guess an officer’s decision to use deadly force, legal experts said Saturday.
Roy Oliver is free on bond after being charged Friday in the death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Investigators say Oliver shot into a car of teenagers leaving an unruly party on April 29, killing Edwards. Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department three days after the shooting.
Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, said data he’s collected since 2005 on police shootings shows officers rarely are charged in deadly shootings. It’s even rarer for an officer to be convicted, according to the data.
From his research, Stinson estimates that fatal shootings by U.S. police officers who are on duty occur about 1,000 times a year. But since 2005, only 81 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting, he said. Of these 81 cases, there have been 30 convictions, 31 cases with no conviction and 20 that are still pending.
In recent years, many police shootings have been captured on video taken by officers’ body cameras or witnesses’ cellphones.