The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into a white police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in the Dallas area, a spokeswoman for the local district attorney's office said on Thursday.
After meeting with Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson Thursday afternoon, attorneys representing the family of slain teen Jordan Edwards said the DA is committed to justice and securing a conviction against fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver.
Oliver, who was dismissed by Balch Springs police after the shooting, turned himself in on May 5 to face the murder charge.
Edwards has been described by friends and family as a good student and athlete.
According to Reuters, Brittany Dunn, a spokesperson for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office confirmed in an email on Thursday that the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the shooting, which would run separately from that of the District Attorney's office.
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The Edwards family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Oliver, the city of Balch Springs and the police department.
While police initially stated that the vehicle full of teens was driving "aggressively towards the officer" prompting the shot, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathon Haber quickly recanted that account after viewing officer worn body camera.
An investigation into the shooting has been launched by both the Dallas County Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's public-integrity unit, and the officer who shot Edwards has been placed on administrative leave.
Community members say they are concerned.
"Our community has been traumatized over and over, throughout this entire country", said Jasmine Crockett, an attorney for the Edwards family. California passed a law in 2015 (which was overturned in court earlier this year) barring prosecutors from using the grand jury process to investigate police shootings, instead asking them to trust their own judgment. We get our hopes up, and then it all falls apart. "We need to find out why he [Oliver] found it necessary to lie because that's what he did", he said. "We're going to try to pull back on this, and I don't think it's wrong or mean or insensitive to civil rights or human rights". Jenkins, the chief executive in Dallas County, called the death of Edwards "every parent's worst nightmare".
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