Texas cop is charged with assault in fatal shooting of black woman Pamela Turner in 2019

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A Texas police officer has been charged with aggravated assault more than a year after fatally shooting a black woman with schizophrenia during a struggle over the cop’s stun gun, prosecutors have revealed.

A Harris County grand jury indicted Baytown Officer Juan Delacruz on Monday for the shooting death of 44-year-old Pamela Turner in the parking lot of an apartment complex where they both lived in May 2019.

Police previously said that during a struggle between the two, Turner reached for Delacruz’s Taser and used it on him, before he fired five shots at her. However family members have long contested the claim, insisting she never discharged the stun gun.

Delacruz, an 11-year veteran, was charged with aggravated assault by a public servant, a felony that could lead to a sentence of five years to life in prison if he’s convicted. Prosecutors said he’ll be given the chance to turn himself in. 

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A Harris County grand jury indicted Baytown Officer Juan Delacruz on Monday for the shooting death of 44-year-old Pamela Turner in the parking lot of an apartment complex where they both lived in May 2019

Pamela Turner shown in a facebook picture above. She was 44-year-old when she died

A Harris County grand jury indicted Baytown Officer Juan Delacruz on Monday for the shooting death of 44-year-old Pamela Turner in the parking lot of an apartment complex where they both lived in May 2019

Police previously said that during a struggle between the two, Turner reached for Delacruz's Taser and used it on him, before he fired five shots at her. However family members have long contested the claim

Police previously said that during a struggle between the two, Turner reached for Delacruz’s Taser and used it on him, before he fired five shots at her. However family members have long contested the claim

Delacruz was patrolling the Brixton Apartments on Garth Road near Park Street at around 10:40pm on May 13 last year when he encountered Turner, and attempted to arrest her.

Police said the pair had ‘prior dealings’ and Delacruz was aware Turner had three misdemeanor warrants out for her arrest at the time – two for criminal mischief and one for assault resulting in bodily injury.

A bystander captured the altercation between Delacruz and Turner on cellphone. In the clip, Turner is heard yelling at the officer, ‘I’m walking! I’m actually walking to my house!’ and then accuses Delacruz of harassing her.

As he attempts to handcuff Turner, she breaks free from his grasp, prompting Delacruz to deploy his Taser. Turner is then seen in the footage slowly falling down to the ground.

A scuffle then ensures between the pair as Turner is heard repeatedly yelling out ‘Why?’ 

Delacruz continues in his attempts to handcuff Turner and take her into custody, as Turner flails her arm and cries out, ‘I’m pregnant!’ – which was later deemed unture.

The woman then appears to swipe at the officer. At that point, something can be seen flashing as Turner extends her arm.

Delacruz then steps back before discharging his handgun. Five shots are heard ringing out in the video, striking Turner on at least one occasion.

Police later said Turner ‘was able to gain control of the Taser and used it on the officer … which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the suspect.’

Neighbors who saw the incident said the community knew Turner and were aware of her mental health issues but said they never felt threatened by her

Neighbors who saw the incident said the community knew Turner and were aware of her mental health issues but said they never felt threatened by her

Delacruz was patrolling the Brixton Apartments on Garth Road near Park Street at around 10:40pm on May 13 last year when he encountered Turner, and attempted to arrest her.

Delcruz is shown above attempting to handcuff turner

Delacruz was patrolling the Brixton Apartments on Garth Road near Park Street at around 10:40pm on May 13 last year when he encountered Turner, and attempted to arrest her.

A scuffle then ensures between the pair as Turner keeps yelling out ‘Why?’ Delacruz continues in his attempts to handcuff turner and take her into custody, as Turner flails her arm and cries out, ‘I’m pregnant!’ The woman then appears to swipe at the officer. At that point, something can be seen flashing as Turner extends her arm

A scuffle then ensures between the pair as Turner keeps yelling out ‘Why?’ Delacruz continues in his attempts to handcuff turner and take her into custody, as Turner flails her arm and cries out, ‘I’m pregnant!’ The woman then appears to swipe at the officer. At that point, something can be seen flashing as Turner extends her arm

Delcaruz then steps back before discharging his handgun. Five shots are heard ringing out in the video, striking Turner on at least one occasion

Delcaruz then steps back before discharging his handgun. Five shots are heard ringing out in the video, striking Turner on at least one occasion

Delacruz administered first aid on Turner until EMTs arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Turner family, said last year that she had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia – a diagnosis her neighbor Delacruz was aware of.

While Baytown PD say Turner used Delacruz’s Taser on him, Crump said the specific model of stun gun the officer had could not have fired for a second time, without having been reloaded first.

Turner was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2005. She had three outstanding warrants out for her arrest at the time of the shooting, all misdemeanor counts

Turner was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2005. She had three outstanding warrants out for her arrest at the time of the shooting, all misdemeanor counts

Crump says Turner would not have been able to manually reload the weapon during the scuffle.

‘He absolutely knew that Taser could not be fired again without her changing the cartridge,’ Crump, told Houston Public Media in 2019. ‘And he did not have to use deadly force while she was laying on her back.’

Crump accused the department of trying to criminalize Turner to justify what he called was an ‘unjustifiable execution.’ 

Lt. Steve Dorris, a spokesman for the Baytown Police Department, said Monday that Officer Delacruz, who was hired in 2008, was still employed by the department and had a ‘nonenforcement’ role. 

Dorris declined to say whether Delacruz had been shot with his own Taser in the altercation when pressed by the New York Times Monday. He referred questions to the Texas Rangers and the local district attorney’s office, both of whom investigated the incident.

The Texas Rangers have not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment on the matter. 

Baytown PD has urged the public to be patient and to ‘have trust and faith’ in the legal process, which remains ongoing.

Greg Cagle, Delacruz’s attorney, meanwhile, said he believed the case against his client was being motivated by politics, for ‘there’s no facts that would justify a criminal charge against the officer,’ he said.

‘When someone takes a police officer’s taser and then uses it against them, the officer is left with no options other than deadly force. That’s how the officers are trained,’ he continued.  

Spray paint marks the spot where Pamela Turner was pronounced dead after being shot by Delacruz on May 13, 2019

Spray paint marks the spot where Pamela Turner was pronounced dead after being shot by Delacruz on May 13, 2019

Turner's sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James (above), told KPRC last year that her sibling had previously complained of the officer harassing her.

Turner’s sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James (above), told KPRC last year that her sibling had previously complained of the officer harassing her.

This undated photo provided by the Turner family shows Pamela Turner, second from right, with her family in Baytown, Texas

This undated photo provided by the Turner family shows Pamela Turner, second from right, with her family in Baytown, Texas

Turner’s sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James, told KPRC last year that her sibling had previously complained of the officer harassing her.

Neighbors who saw the incident said the community knew Turner and were aware of her mental health issues but said they never felt threatened by her.

‘Pam Turner’s killing was a tragedy,’ Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney, said in a statement on Monday. ‘It is important to acknowledge that her family and the community are in pain.’

‘Ultimately, we presented all of the evidence to a grand jury that determined the Baytown police officer should be charged with a crime for his actions when he shot Ms. Turner,’ she said. ‘We respect their decision, and we will be moving forward with prosecution.’

Turner is survived by two children, both in their 20s, and three grandchildren.

The charges against Delacruz come following months of nationwide protests against racism and police violence around the country, spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota police custody on Memorial Day.

Turner’s name received a mention from Reverend Al Sharpton during the Houston funeral service for Floyd on June 8, in a list among other black Americans who have died in police custody.

Crump has previously criticized how long it took officials to investigate Turner’s death.

Last month, he wrote on Twitter: ‘Where’s the outrage over Pamela Turner? Over an ‘investigation’ that’s lasted more than 1 YEAR?! Every morning, Ofc. Juan Delacruz puts on his uniform and goes to work at Baytown Police Department. Every morning, the family of Pamela Turner mourns her death and prays for JUSTICE.’

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