Houston, TX — A tragedy unfolded in 2019 in Houston, Texas when a Baytown police officer approached a woman, 44-year-old Pamela Turner, and killed her. Turner's last words before she was shot five times by the officer were "I'm pregnant." Now, nearly two years later, the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officer in federal court.
Today, April 8, would have been Turner's 46th birthday. Turner's mother, Tamika Palmer has asked everyone to share the video of her daughter's death so that justice may be served.
Turner's death was so egregious, Baytown officer Juan Delacruz was indicted last year on charges of aggravated assault. The officer's attorney maintains his client acted in self-defense after fearing for his life. But when we see the video and the facts of the case, this claim becomes laughable.
At the time of her death, Turner was reportedly struggling with mental illness, however, her neighbors and family said she was peaceful and kept to herself, which is why the video of the incident had family members claiming that this shooting was unjustified. More than a year later, the justice system finally agreed and began to hold Delacruz for his alleged crimes.
"We have faith and trust in our judicial system, and as we wait for this case to proceed through the legal process, we ask that our community continue to be patient and have trust and faith in those processes," the police department said after the indictment. "We also ask that our community continue to have faith and trust in the Baytown Police Department and the dedicated, professional men and women who are committed to serving all members of our community with integrity, compassion and professionalism."
While the case moves forward, Delacruz remains gainfully employed with the Baytown police department and has been placed on non-enforcement status. Non-enforcement status means Delacruz is not working the streets and his police powers have been suspended but he still gets paid.
According to police, the officer approached Turner because she allegedly had outstanding warrants, later reported to be for petty misdemeanor accusations.
“Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris said an officer on patrol saw a 45-year-old woman the officer had had prior encounters with,” CBS News reported at the time. “He knew the woman had outstanding warrants, so he approached her to arrest her.”
Her family says that Turner was on medication for schizophrenia and had a history of mental illness.
Despite the officer claiming he had a "history" with Turner, he clearly didn't attempt to de-escalate the situation when she tried to walk away from him. Furthermore, he used dangerous escalation tactics on a person suffering from schizophrenia—which is always a terrible idea.
"I'm walking. I'm actually walking to my house," Turner is heard saying on the video before the officer began to physically accost her. "Ow!" she screams as he grabs her neck.
"You're actually harassing me," Turner says as the officer pulls out his taser.
According to police, when Turner tried to walk away—otherwise known as "resisting" to them—the officer pulled out his taser and shocked her.
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Clearly this did nothing to help resolve the situation and only made Turner enter into an excited and panicked state, so she tried to defend herself from her attacker by grabbing at the taser. When she was able to remove the taser from the officer's hand, he pulled his gun and shot her five times.
“During the course of the attempted arrest, the female began struggling with the officer, which forced the officer to deploy his Taser,” Baytown Police Department Lt. Steve Dorris said. “That deployment was not effective, and the female was able to get the officer’s Taser away from him. (She) actually tased the officer, which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the suspect.”
But documents obtained by Houston Public Media from the city of Baytown via an open records request show that the Taser model Delacruz used was an X26P — a model that is incapable of shooting a second set of darts.
"He absolutely knew that Taser could not be fired again without her changing the cartridge,” Turner's family's attorney, Ben Crump, told Houston Public Media. “And he did not have to use deadly force while she was laying on her back."
The last words to leave her mouth before the cop opened fire were, "I'm pregnant."
It would later be revealed that Turner was not pregnant. However, Turner's sister, Antoinette, told KPRC that the woman had two children in their 20s and three grandchildren.
While police claim Turner tasered the officer, this is not clear in the video. Also, police noted that the officer was not injured. Sadly, we cannot say the same about Turner.
Witnesses told KPRC that Turner was “not a bad person” and she would “just walk around, smoke her cigarettes and walk her dogs.”
This is what she was doing when the officer approached her and ended her life.
“Antoinette also said the officer was Turner’s neighbor and she had previously complained about the officer harassing her,” KPRC wrote.
After the video was posted to the internet, Lt. Dorris told the media that it was unfortunate that someone filmed the incident and uploaded it to social media.
“It’s extremely disrespectful for everybody involved,” Dorris told CBS News. “But that’s the day and age we live in with social media.”
However, the family disagrees as it shows that the shooting was likely unnecessary and will serve as evidence in a case against the killer cop. Indeed, without the video below, Delacruz may have never been indicted.