ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was arrested for DWI on May 16th. At that time, George Floyd was just a regular person living in Minnesota.
Nine days later, Floyd was killed by officers in Minneapolis during an arrest for counterfeiting.
Oliver said Floyd’s death gave him a whole new perspective on his own encounter with police.
“If I didn’t just ‘yes sir, no sir’… that could have been me.”
Oliver met with Western New York media Monday via Zoom for the first time since the arrest and the subsequent clearing of his name. Charges were dismissed in late July after blood tests revealed no alcohol or drugs in his system the night of the arrest.
Officers in Montgomery County, Texas booked Oliver despite a triple-zero on his breathalyzer that night. Oliver told the police he was just tired. He was frustrated that his side was not believed.
Oliver still doesn’t understand why he was arrested.
“He wasn’t understanding what I was saying or he didn’t want to understand,” Oliver said of the officer who arrested him. “One of those things in your life you gotta go through and get through it.”
Once in jail, Oliver said he had to strip down. He put on a jumpsuit and slippers. He was entered into a drug abuse program. He called the whole procedure “violating”.
“I didn’t feel right,” Oliver said. “I didn’t work my life and walk the straight line my whole life to be put in a jumpsuit and be taken to jail. For what?”
He was asked if he the incident would have proceeded the same way if he was white.
“I would hope to believe, whatever color you are, you’re going to jail,” Oliver said.
The arrest happened on a Saturday and Oliver was back communicating with his teammates in meetings on Monday. He laid out his side of the story. Many Bills knew Oliver was exactly the type of guy to hitch a jetski to his truck for a long day of outdoor activities. They also understood a hitch of that size could cause the swerving which prompted a 911 call from a passing motorist that lead to the arrest.
Some teammates were still skeptical.
“Some of the guys believed me. Some thought there were more to it,” Oliver said. “I just told them the truth. Ain’t nothing to lie about.”
This was just supposed to be an innocent trip back home. Instead, it became one of the worst days of Oliver’s life. He is encouraged by his resilience through the ordeal and was reminded of his mom’s advice that “you live through 100% of your worst days”.
Oliver has also learned how quickly his world can change.
“You gotta slow down. You gotta watch your surroundings and try to keep yourself out of situations like that. Life is real. Life comes at you fast,” Oliver said. “Even if you’re innocent, you can still go to jail for nothing. If they tell you you’ve got to go to jail that day, go to jail. It’s not right, but it is what it is. Can’t fight five officers, might as well just go to jail. I didn’t have no choice.”
Although the wait was long, Oliver is grateful he not only survived the situation, he was vindicated. He hopes to have a lesson to pass down just like mom offered wisdom to him.
“Hopefully, I can tell my kids…. you don’t have to fight back, if you’re right, your right,” Oliver said. “The truth going to set you free.”