ABOVE: Baytown police officer Juan Delacruz
Baytown police officer Juan Delacruz has been found NOT guilty of the killing of Pamela Turner!
After a jury trial that began on Thursday, October 6th, the jury deliberated until Tuesday, October 11th, before reaching a verdict and finding Delacruz NOT guilty of aggravated assault by a public servant—a first-degree felony.
This is MAJOR news, as it would have marked the first time that a member of law enforcement would have received a felony conviction for the death of an African American female.
The Houston Forward Times has been following this case since Turner, 44, was fatally shot the day after Mother’s Day, by the Baytown police officer on May 13, 2019, outside the Brixton Apartments where they both lived in Baytown, TX.
On September 14, Delacruz was indicted by a Harris County grand jury, based on the Harris County District Attorney’s office presenting all the evidence to them, and thus determining that he should be charged with a crime for his actions when he shot and killed Turner.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg responded immediately to the jury’s decision.
“Pamela Turner’s killing was a tragedy for her family and community. Bringing excessive use of force charges against an officer is always difficult and uncomfortable,” said Ogg. “We respect the jury’s verdict.”
As was previously reported by the Forward Times in September 2020, in an article entitled “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied,” the confrontation between Delacruz and Turner began when he approached her and confronted her.
Delacruz not only lived in the apartments, but he was in uniform and driving a marked car.
According to Harris County prosecutors during the trial, Delacruz saw Turner, ran her name in the database, and discovered she had outstanding warrants.
Based on an independent investigation by the Texas Rangers, they found that Delacruz tried to restrain Turner, but as she resisted, they both fell to the ground, before he fired his Taser at her.
Prosecutors argued that Turner was trying to walk home to her apartment, but Delacruz followed her and used his Taser on her, causing her to fall to the ground. They stated that Turner grabbed the officer’s Taser as he was trying to put handcuffs on her, to which Delacruz quickly jumped back, grabbed his gun, fired it five times at her, hitting her three times and fatally killing her.
A bystander captured the altercation and killing on video, with the footage showing Delacruz standing over Turner before shooting her, as she was on the ground begging for her life.
Details from an independent autopsy report requested by Turner’s family described the graphic details of Turner’s death. According to the independent autopsy, out of the five bullets that came from Delacruz’s gun, three of those bullets struck Turner from a distance. One shot hit Turner in the chest, another one in the abdomen, and a final one struck her in the face, which left her face significantly disfigured and unrecognizable, according to the family.
The Harris County Medical Examiner ruled Turner’s death a homicide.
Turner had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
If he would have been found guilty, Delacruz was facing a potential punishment of five years to life in prison.
As has been previously reported, the Turner case has gained national attention and community activists have demanded justice for Pamela Turner and her family ever since the tragic shooting occurred. Many community activists went to court and witnessed the proceedings.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt chimed in after the decision via Twitter.
“Another Texas Jury just acquitted a police officer of murder,” said Merritt. “We need federal intervention in Texas’ “justice system””
Nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who stepped up to represent the family of Pamela Turner immediately after the 2019 shooting, expressed his displeasure with the verdict.
Turner’s family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit in federal court last year, on what would have been Turner’s 46th birthday. The family continues to hope for some form of justice.
The Forward Times will continue to follow the details of the federal civil lawsuit and keep our readers up-to-date on them.