DALLAS -- The family of a black 15-year-old shot and killed by a white suburban Dallas police officer has sued the officer and his department, claiming it didn't provide enough training on deadly force.
Jordan Edwards' funeral was Saturday, one week after he was shot dead in a vehicle leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. According to the Edwards family's lawyers, Officer Roy Oliver fired his rifle at the vehicle as it was driving away, piercing a passenger-side window and striking Edwards.
Oliver was fired last week and arrested on a murder charge.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, says police should have known Oliver had "exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public," including a prosecutor's complaint about his aggressive behavior detailed in personnel records. The complaint said prosecutors had a hard time getting Oliver to attend a trial and used language vulgar enough that one prosecutor sent an intern out of the room. Oliver received a 16-hour suspension over the complaint.
But the lawsuit also blames Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber and the department for having "failed to provide adequate training to Oliver on appropriate methods and techniques to control situations similar to the one" that occurred on the night of April 29, when police were called to investigate underage drinking at a chaotic house party with dozens of teenagers.
The day after the shooting, police issued a statement saying the vehicle was reversing toward officers "in an aggressive manner." Haber would correct that statement Monday after reviewing police video footage, saying the vehicle was actually driving away from the officers when Oliver fired his rifle.
Balch Springs' use of force policy -- in line with national recommendations -- instructs officers to avoid shooting at moving vehicles unless their lives or others' are in imminent danger. But the lawsuit says officials had the responsibility to determine whether Oliver knew how to respond.
"Oliver's inadequate training resulted in the death of Edwards," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit broadly seeks damages for Edwards' wrongful death. No hearings have been scheduled.
A spokesman for police and an attorney for Oliver, Cindy Stormer, did not return messages Sunday seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Pete Schulte, a defense attorney and former McKinney police officer, told CBS Dallas/Fort Worth that prosecutors will look to see if Oliver perceived something at the scene that was not actually happening.
"What would a reasonable officer do in that situation? I think that's where he's going to have a problem with what we know now," Schulte told the station. "A reasonable officer probably wouldn't have pulled out an AR-15 assault rifle at a call for a loud party with a bunch of teenagers."
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