Texas Police Officer Charged in the Fatal Shooting of Black Woman Suffering From Schizophrenia

Illustration for article titled Texas Police Officer Charged in the Fatal Shooting of Black Woman Suffering From Schizophrenia
Screenshot: KHOU 11

A police officer has been indicted more than a year after fatally shooting a Black woman who suffered from schizophrenia in Baytown, Texas.

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In May 2019, 45-year-old Pamela Shantay Turner was shot and killed by Baytown officer Juan Delacruz. According to KHOU 11, Delacruz has been charged with aggravated assault by a public servant—a first-degree felony that carries a punishment of five years to life in prison.

Delacruz—who isn’t currently in jail but is expected to turn himself in—allegedly shot Turner after a struggle broke out as he was trying to arrest her over outstanding warrants.

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Here’s how the situation unfolded as reported by CNN:

Police have said Delacruz was patrolling an apartment complex in the Houston suburb when he saw Turner, whom he knew had outstanding warrants. He tried to arrest her, police said.

Shaky cell phone video captured the interaction. Turner yells at the officer, “I’m walking! I’m actually walking to my house!” and then accuses Delacruz of harassing her.

As he tries to handcuff the woman, she breaks free, prompting Delacruz to deploy his Taser. Turner slowly drops to the ground, the video shows.

A scuffle ensues, and Turner keeps yelling, “Why?” Delacruz continues his attempts to take her into custody, and Turner flails her arms and yells, “I’m pregnant!”

The woman appears to reach for the officer, who stands back and fires five rounds, the video shows.

Police later said Turner “was able to gain control of the Taser and used it on the officer.”

Delacruz attempted to administer first aid, police said, but Turner was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to CNN, Lt. Steve Dorris, a Baytown police spokesman, said Turner was not pregnant at the time of the shooting.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Turner’s family, said in a statement, “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 [to] equal justice.”

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The Baytown Police Department also released the following statement Monday:

“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. 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.”

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According to CBS News, “Turner struggled with paranoid schizophrenia since her diagnosis in 2005.” Crump said during a news conference last year that she “may have been in crisis the night she was killed.”

“She was a lady who had mental health issues,” Crump said at the time. “What she needed was a helping hand from the police officer. Instead, she got five bullets.”

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In July, The Root included Turner’s story in a report on how America’s legal system fails Black people who suffer from mental illness.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

The shooting happened at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Garth Road — where they both lived.

I don’t like the sound of this.

There have been reports claiming the Taser used by Delacruz was not capable of firing a second time, however, KHOU-11 has not verified those claims. Baytown PD requested the Texas Rangers investigate the incident.

It’s September 2020. This would be a very important part of the story that doesn’t need to be hidden away for trial. Anyone want to try and find out what Bayton PD officers carry?

As always, this was so incredibly senseless.