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Questions After Balch Springs Officer Shoots, Kills 15-Year-Old

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UPDATE: The Dallas County Medical Examiner confirms a rifle shot to the head as the preliminary cause of death.

BALCH SPRINGS (CBSDFW.COM) - An investigation continues in Balch Springs after a police officer shot and killed a 15-year-old boy. The shooting happened over the weekend as a group of teens left a party.

So far police haven't released the name of the victim, but family members have identified him as 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said his department will conduct an internal affairs investigation, but that the Dallas County Sheriff's Department would take the lead on the officer involved shooting case.

Monday morning the Dallas County District Attorney's Office issued a statement that said, in part -

"The Civil Rights Team responds to all officer- involved shooting in Dallas County to conduct an impartial and independent investigation.

As such, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office is investigating the death of Jordan Edwards. We offer our sincere condolences to Jordan's family and will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we move forward expeditiously, with a commitment to justice and transparency."

Police received a call reporting a group of underage kids drinking and causing problems on Baron Drive. According to investigators, officers responding to the call heard gunshots when they arrived.

Chief Haber said Edwards was a passenger in a car that backed down a road, toward officers, in an aggressive way. He said that's when officers fired at the car and the teenager was hit.

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family, said the boys in the car initially didn't realize anyone had been hurt. "They didn't know that their friend was shot until they made their way down the street and they noticed that he wasn't talking and they saw smoke coming from his head," he said.

Edwards was taken to a local hospital but died from his injuries.

Merritt said he spoke with the teens in the car and insists there wasn't anything dangerous or threatening about the way the vehicle was being driven. "They were simply leaving a party where they believed danger was and so I can't wrap my mind around why an officer decided to shoot into the car."

Chief Haber said the officer who fired the shots is on administrative leave and is asking for calm. Just hours after the shooting he said, "We've received threats through social media towards officers, also towards our community. We want to encourage everyone to please just be patient."

The Chief said he had also "reached out and personally met and spoken with the parents and expressed my condolences."

Merritt believes there is proof backing up what witnesses told him. "We have learned that there were body cams worn by the officers, and it's their policy to have them activated. So, we'll be anxiously awaiting those, which we believe will prove what everyone that we've spoken to has confirmed that they [the teens] were not moving the vehicle in any aggressive way."

Meanwhile, family and friends are having a hard time dealing with Edward's death. Family friend Chris Cano Sr. said, "I didn't want to believe it. It was a nightmare. I didn't know how to tell my son."

Others described Edwards, a Mesquite High School freshman, as a great athlete and a very respectful young man who will be greatly missed. Family friend Fount Rowel said, "We just need people to pray.  Pray for the Edwards family right now.  They're going to need it because again, this is truly a senseless loss of a great child."

Grief counselors are at Mesquite High today and are being made available to all students, faculty and staff. Administrators also delayed end of the year biology tests until Tuesday.

The Mesquite ISD issued the following statement about Jordan Edwards:

"Mesquite ISD's deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man who tragically lost his life late Saturday evening. He was a good student who was very well liked by his teachers, coaches and his fellow students.  The entire district -- especially the staff and students of Mesquite High School -- are mourning this terrible loss."


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