Grand Jury indicts Baytown police officer for 2019 shooting death of Pamela Turner; Officer being given the opportunity to turn himself in so that a judge can set bail
Has justice finally come for the family of Pamela Turner?
The jury is still out on whether justice will come, but the decision by one jury has moved Turner’s family one step closer to hopefully receiving some semblance of justice.
The Houston Forward Times has been closely following the troubling case surrounding Pamela Turner and the Baytown police officer who fatally shot her on May 13, 2019, outside the apartment complex where they both resided on Garth Rd. in Baytown, Texas.
This past Monday, September 14, Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz was indicted by a Harris County grand jury for the 2019 shooting death of the 44-year-old Black female.
“Pam Turner’s killing was a tragedy; it is important to acknowledge that her family and the community are in pain,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement. “Every aspect of the case was independently investigated by the Texas Rangers and our Civil Rights Division prosecutors. 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. We respect their decision and we will be moving forward with prosecution.”
The confrontation started when Officer Delacruz approached Turner and fatally shot her after a tussle while she was on the ground begging for her life. A bystander captured the murder on video, with the footage showing Officer Delacruz standing over Turner before shooting her. Turner had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
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 Officer 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.
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.
Nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who stepped up to represent the family of Pamela Turner immediately after the shooting, responded to the news that Officer Delacruz had finally been indicted by a grand jury with hopeful optimism that the family would get justice.
“Justice delayed is justice denied…as a society, we must do better,” said Crump, referring to the 16 months that have passed before the homicide case was first presented to a grand jury. “Finally, Pamela Turner; her children, Chelsie Rubin and Cameron January; her sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James; and the rest of Pamela’s family, can receive the justice to which they are entitled,” noted Crump, “equal justice.”
Joining Crump in represented Turner’s family is noted civil rights attorney Devon M. Jacob of Jacob Litigation, Inc.
Jacob stated that Crump and he “will not stop until both Delacruz, the police chief, and the City of Baytown, are held accountable for their conduct.”
Going further, Jacob, who is a former police officer, believes there was no reason for Officer Delacruz to feel threatened and ultimately shoot and kill Turner.
“It cannot be disputed that when Delacruz shot and killed Pamela Turner, she did not possess a weapon capable of producing serious injury, let alone death, and due to the distance between Delacruz and Turner, she did not have the ability to cause Delacruz to suffer any injury,” said Jacob. “The force that Delacruz used was not objectively reasonable, and the police chief and city acted with deliberate indifference when they cleared Delacruz of wrongdoing and returned him to the street.”
Jacob is referring to the fact that on the day Turner was laid to rest, Officer Delacruz was given his job back, after initially being placed on a mandatory three-day administrative leave and has continued representing the City of Baytown as if nothing ever happened.
The Turner case has put a spotlight on the Baytown Police Department, especially the numerous instances of police brutality caught on video since Turner’s brutal murder caught on camera.
Last July, the Houston Forward Times reported a story entitled Baytown Beatdown – Black Man Targeted, Tasered and Beaten by Baytown Police Incident Caught on Camera, regarding a 45-year-old African American man named Kedrick Crawford who filed a lawsuit against the City of Baytown in June of this year, alleging his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights were violated.
Crawford states that he pulled into a local H-E-B parking lot on Garth Rd. to put an address into his GPS navigation app on his cell phone for directions, and as he was parked there, he states that Baytown Police officers pulled up and approached his vehicle. One of the most shocking things in the video footage, is a third party who is seen on the video in civilian clothing (blue shirt and blue jeans) appearing to place Crawford in a chokehold while wrestling with him on the ground. The Baytown Police officers do not stop this individual from interacting with Crawford and he is not identified in the video. After a few minutes of Crawford being tasered and beaten, the officer’s body camera goes dark and all you can hear is the audio of him continuing to scream and demand answers. After the disturbing incident, Crawford was treated at Ben Taub Hospital for significant injuries to his face, chest, right eye, head and hands.
No one has been arrested or indicted relative to Crawford’s incident. Crawford’s incident was caught on camera also, and came a few months after Turner’s murder.
Then, earlier this month, another Baytown police officer was indicted by a Harris County grand jury, regarding another incident of police brutality caught on video.
Former Baytown Officer Nathaniel Brown, who has since been fired after 9 years on the force, was indicted on September 2, on a charge of misdemeanor assault, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He faces up to a year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine.
Back on June 2, Baytown police officers pulled over a 23-year-old Black man for an alleged traffic violation and upon handcuffing the gentleman, two people in front of the store where they stopped the gentleman started talking about the unlawful incident as they recorded.
In the video, you can see Officer Brown approach the gentlemen in front of the store, throwing one of them on the ground and eventually kicking him in the head.
Not everyone is pleased with the charge against Officer Delacruz, including the National Black United Front (NBUF) Houston Chapter, who have been protesting and advocating that charges be brought against the Baytown officer since it happened.
“We are not satisfied with a charge of aggravated assault,” said Kofi Taharka, NBUF National Chairman. “NBUF doesn’t jump for joy over a potential slap on the wrist for murder. Pamela Turner needed compassion and mental health experts to help her, not Tasers and bullets. What would she have been charged with if she had shot and killed him? What we saw was cold blooded murder. This case illustrates the global system of White Supremacy and Racism in action.”
Time will tell what the outcome will be of these cases, but the Houston Forward Times will continue to keep a close eye on them and keep our readers up-to-date on them.
Relative to Officer Delacruz, he has been charged with aggravated assault by a public servant, which is a first-degree felony that carries a punishment of five years to live in prison.
Currently, Officer Delacruz is not in jail as of this article, but he has been given the opportunity to turn himself in so that a judge can set bail.