By now we have all heard about Jordan Reynolds, the Black high school freshman honor roll student and athlete who was shot and killed by a police officer while leaving a party in a car with his brothers and friends last Saturday night in Balch Springs, Texas. No one in the car was armed, no one had been drinking or was charged with any crimes after the shooting. The police department’s early efforts to defend the officer were reversed when video footage revealed that the car had posed no danger to the officer, but was in fact driving away from him when he fired the fatal shot. The department fired the officer, saying that his shooting Jordan Reynolds did not meet the police department’s “core values”. Angry community members and people nationwide are calling for murder charges to be brought against the former officer. UPDATE: On Friday, May 5, The Balch Springs Police Department charged former officer Roy Oliver with the murder of Jordan Edwards and has issued a warrant for his arrest. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office cited evidence suggesting Oliver “intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death,” the Associated Press reported.
How do we talk to our sons, especially our younger sons, about another senseless and tragic killing of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer? We tell them what we know from the news reports. We tell them it is okay for them (and for us) to be sad about this tragedy, and to be upset that these events seem to be happening regularly. We tell them that the police officer was fired so quickly because this shooting was clearly outside of any authority he had as a policeman. We tell them that there are bad policemen, but that all policemen are not bad. We tell them that justice for Jordan means punishing the man who killed him. We tell them that Jordan Reynolds did not do anything wrong, and that sometimes really bad things happen in the world, but not always. And we tell them we are going to protect them with our love and our prayers and our advice as best we can. At this point there is not much more we can say.
The family of Jordan Edwards has shown tremendous strength and grace in the face of unimaginable pain and sorrow. They have released the following statement through their attorney:
We would first like to thank everyone for their kind words, thoughts, prayers, and condolences as we mourn the tremendous loss our family and community has suffered. We know that so many of you share in our loss. At this time, we ask that you please be respectful of our family, and allow us the opportunity and space to grieve. This entire ordeal has been inescapable.
Jordan was a loving child, with a humble and sharing spirit. The bond that he shared with his family, particularly his siblings, was indescribable. Not only have Jordan’s brothers lost their best friend; they witnessed firsthand his violent, senseless murder. Their young lives will forever be altered. No one, let alone young children, should witness such horrific, unexplainable violence. While our family attempts to cope with our loss, we ask that at this time the community please refrain from protests and marches in Jordan’s and our family’s name, as we prepare for his funeral. We do not support nor do we condone any violence or threats made against the Balch Springs Police Department or any other law enforcement agencies.
What we desire, only second to having our beloved Jordan back, is JUSTICE FOR JORDAN.
With All of Our Love,
The Edwards Family
This thoughtful letter tells us that as much as we may want to lift up the name of Jordan Edwards as the symbol of police brutality at its worse, and to protest in his name to show why Black Lives Matter, we must allow these parents and this family the space to mourn this sudden horrific loss.
But as we do, we will keep all eyes trained on Balch Springs with the hope that they take the necessary next steps to secure Justice For Jordan.