Vincent Hill: Okay, still hearing testimony from Eric Knight. He’s a friend of the victim here, Jordan Edwards. Roy Oliver, a police officer in Texas, is on trial right now for his murder. He was 15 years old when he was shot and killed just a few years ago. Joining me right now in the studio is Brad Micklin and via Skype all the way from Atlanta, Georgia is Ashley Wilcott.
And now Brad, listen, I’ve done these things, these high stress situations before. Now police had a right to be there, there was some shooting going on so, of course, they had a 911 call about some kids, loud music, whatnot, shots ring out. I can understand why the officer ran to the car, but we had testimony from the previous officer, that says he didn’t feel that the vehicle was trying to get him. What do you think about that? Do you think that’s bad for this defense?
Brad Micklin: Well the testimony that his partner didn’t fear for his life doesn’t help, but the question really is, what was going on in the defendant’s mind. Was his understanding and actions reasonable? Now they’re going to use the partner’s testimony to suggest that it wasn’t. The prosecutor’s going to use it to suggest it wasn’t. But we have a high tense situation, we have the body cam footage where he’s saying right after the shooting, “Are you okay? Are you okay?”, which either was very contrived and planned, which is unusual given the high tension, or he was familiar with his actions and the problems it could have led to and I think that was part … Part of my research suggested that Officer Oliver previously had a similar instance where he fired into a moving car.
Now, I don’t think the jury’s going to hear about that, and I’m not really sure what the outcome was, but that could have influenced his actions here and which is why his body cam shots, he talks about his partner being safe, because he knows at the moment what he did may have been unjustified.
Vincent Hill: Yeah, again, I’ve been in these high stress situations. There’s a lot of split second decision making in policing that, of course, when this goes through trial, a lot of people question those actions. I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback his actions. I can just say from what I saw, I don’t see where that vehicle was a danger. How important is it that, if this officer did say he heard two different, or he stated two different accounts, I don’t think that really looks good for him because if things are the same, your story shouldn’t change at all.
Brad Micklin: I don’t think it’s going to help him at all. First, because there’s a very good chance he doesn’t testify. So if he doesn’t testify, this is all that we’re going to have for the jury to hear about his side and if there’s a conflict in what he says, and he’s changing his story to best suit his actions, it’s going to hurt when the jury tries to determine what was his intention. Did he act in good faith or the best course he could have?
Vincent Hill: Right, absolutely. And again, listen, I’ve been there. I know those split second decisions, but it’s up to what an officer believes is reasonable at that time. That’s what this officer has to convince this jury of. Brad, you and I were talking during this whole thing and it’s not as easy as people assume, to charge a police officer with murder because police have a legal right to be there, i.e., they had a 911 call about the loud music, then shots were fired, so this is not an open and shut case as many people would assume. What say you?
Brad Micklin: I agree. We have to keep in mind, we’re sitting here after all this happened. We know there were no drugs supposedly there, there were no weapons supposedly there, but the officers responding didn’t know that. All they knew was they were going to a house with 2 or 300 kids or people, they hear gunshots, they see people fleeing, they see a car leaving and the important thing that a lot of people that write and comment about this, haven’t really considered is, the gun law in Texas is very liberal. We’re sitting here in New York. I’m from New Jersey and we have very strict gun laws so we assume the people that we talk to don’t have guns on them, but in Texas, my understanding is, if you’re 18, you can have a gun in your car that you own without a permit.
Vincent Hill: Right.
Brad Micklin: So this is what’s in the officer’s mind when he’s chasing this car. That they could legally have a gun and he heard shots fired. So I think his actions are more reasonable than it may seem when we sit here in hindsight.
Vincent Hill: Absolutely. And Brad, so we saw that young man crying there very heavily there in the courtroom and one of the questions he was asked, “Were you in fear of your life when the shots rang out?”, and I assume he means the shots from police officer Roy Oliver.
Brad Micklin: That’s the hardest part about this case is that the victim is completely innocent. There’s no allegation that there was anything they were doing wrong except for maybe fleeing, but that’s understandable. There’re gunshots, there’s police, he’s a teenager, any of us would probably do the same. It begs to question of really what is even relevant of having this witness other than to pull on the heart strings of the jury because there’s no question that the officer shot Jordan, so what his friend saw, what his friend felt in that car really has no relevance to that.
Vincent Hill: Yeah, absolutely, and one thing I do want to point out, you heard some of the line of questioning about him being pulled out of the car and placed on his knees, his hands behind his back. Now let’s be clear in the interest of fairness, that is all protocol anytime you believe that there is an imminent threat. We did hear gunshots, police had just shot into this vehicle, they assumed there was a gun, someone armed there, so that part is protocol. But to Ashley’s point, to see that jury there, or to see that witness there before that jury crying because he realized his friend was dead basically just a few feet away from him is very traumatic for any kid to have to deal with, and especially for the jury to have to watch that. I can only imagine what they were thinking.
If we could actually pull up the body cam video, you see the video there on your screen, this is just before the shooting. If we can get that back up. The car there that Jordan Edwards was in, you can see it backing up, this is when the officer was giving commands to stop the car, stop the car and let’s look at how quickly this escalates to gun fire. The shots are being fired into that car and I always say anytime I’m talking about police cases, things can escalate within a split second, but again, it’s up to what the officer believed to be reasonable at that time. Did he believe there was an imminent threat against his life? Let’s actually watch that clip with the sound so you can get an idea.
Thank you so much for that Anthony. Still with me in studio, Brad Micklin. Brad, all I can say is RESPECT. I mean, you get shot because you think Halle Berry should play and Scott doesn’t think Halle Berry should play. I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the courtroom, but I mean that’s just, in my opinion, a very stupid shooting. You can’t claim self-defense, you can’t claim anything.
Brad Micklin: It’s really surprising and we hear all these wild gun offenses, and again, like we were talking about with Texas, this I believe happened in Virginia, which has even a broader gun law. I think in Virginia, you’re allowed to openly carry without a permit.
Vincent Hill: Right.
Brad Micklin: So I think part of the reason we’re seeing these types of crimes is maybe, and I don’t want to draw a big political debate, but it could be partly the gun laws, but also I understand that both of the individuals in this incident are hospitalized so it suggests that there may have been a struggle before the shooting so we’re not really sure yet what happened.
Vincent Hill: Yes, it’s a strange situation to say the least that this is what the world has come to that you’d get shot over a debate of who should play who in a movie. I can think of a few people that should play Aretha Franklin, but Halle Berry probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but that’s just me.
We want to switch gears here. Of course, we’ve also been covering the Shayna Hubers’ case in Kentucky. She has previously stood trial, been convicted of killing her lover, her boyfriend. She shot him six times, one in the face. You can see her there on your screen. But the problem is, one of the jurors in her previous trial was a convicted felon, and as you know, you cannot be a convicted felon and serve on any juries. So, she has a new trial going on right now. Our very own Aaron Keller has been in that courtroom covering as much as he could because the judge will not allow live streaming for that trial.
So we want to switch gears, talk about that case. Brad, I’ve worked enough domestic violence cases, I’m not saying domestic violence does not happen. Of course, we know it happens, but how can you then claim self-defense for six shots, one of those being in the face. That’s a very up close, personal, brutal crime. So it’s hard for me to articulate that it was self-defense to try to get this individual off. What say you?
Brad Micklin: I agree. This is a nightmare case for the defense. There’s no way around, not only her six shots, the last one into the face, regardless of what the distance may have been, there’s still six. We could justify one, two, even if you want to push a third but then you have a fourth, fifth, and sixth. There’s no way that you could justify that. Then she calls 911 and says, “I killed my boyfriend”, but it was 15 minutes after she shot him.
Vincent Hill: Right.
Brad Micklin: Or 10 or 15 minutes after she shot him.
Vincent Hill: Right. It was several minutes after she shot him and to your point, maybe the first shot, yes. That’s the shot to get this individual off of you. The second maybe even. I’ve seen people shot twice and it has no effect. So, maybe you’re right on that regard, but it’s hard to say self-defense six times and one in the face. You just heard that testimony from this medical examiner, but she’s still saying it was self-defense.
Ashley Wilcott: That’s why I wanted to …
Brad Micklin: It’s a credible defense on her part and I guess it’s just because her attorneys have nothing more. Her own 911 tape, again, she acknowledged and admitted he was alive. She said he was alive, “I went around the table and shot him again”, I think she even said, to put him out of his misery. I hate to say it but she talked about him like he was an animal in the road.
Vincent Hill: Right.
Brad Micklin: And she’s just horrified that she’s now going to try and pretend that she was so abused that she killed him because even, again, in that 911 tape in her own words, she says, “I was thrown against the couch”, I think it was or a chair, “but I wasn’t injured”. The responding woman on the phone said, “You were thrown in the couch, but not injured?” And she, again, admitted, “No, I wasn’t injured”.
Vincent Hill: Right.
Brad Micklin: So she just took his life because she was upset or worried about something.
Vincent Hill: Absolutely. I want to thank Ashley Wilcott and Brad Micklin for joining me here on the Law and Crime Network and I appreciate your time, Ashley, of course from Atlanta.
Ashley Wilcott: Thank you.
Vincent Hill: And Brad here in the studio. Thank you so much.