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Medical Examiner Rules Baytown Woman’s Death A Homicide

The Texas Rangers have taken the lead in the investigation of the officer-involved shooting that killed Pamela Turner. Her family says her death was unjust.

John Mone/AP
Spray paint marks the spot at the Baytown apartment complex where police say an officer shot and killed Pamela Turner after she hit him with his Taser during a struggle.

NOTE: This story has been updated to include the name of the police officer involved in the fatal shooting with Pamela Turner.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s office has ruled the fatal shooting of 44-year-old Pamela Turner in Baytown by a local police officer a homicide. The Baytown Police Department has asked the Texas Rangers to conduct an outside investigation of the fatal incident moving forward, and Turner's family said on Thursday her death was unjust.

The shooting occurred on Monday night and was recorded by an individual who hasn't come forward yet. Baytown Police revealed on Thursday afternoon the officer’s name is Juan Delacruz.

Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris said the officer was patrolling an apartment complex and attempted to arrest Turner, whom the officer had previously dealt with because he knew she had outstanding warrants. Dorris said the officer, an 11-year veteran of the police department, opened fire after Turner grabbed his taser gun and used it against him.

Online records show the medical examiner found Turner’s death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds, although the finding doesn’t indicate a crime was committed. The Baytown Police Department Internal Affairs Division will continue its own review of the incident.

A video of the shooting shows Turner and the officer struggling after he tries to arrest her. Something flashes as they grapple on the ground and the officer can be seen pulling back and firing five shots.

Abner Fletcher/Houston Public Media
From left to right: Cameron January, Pamela Turner’s son; Chelsie Ruben, Turner’s daughter, and Ben Crump, attorney for the Turner family. They held a news conference on May 16, 2019, to discuss the officer-involved fatal shooting that caused Turner’s death in Baytown on May 13, 2019.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has worked on high profile cases such as the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, is representing Turner's family. On Thursday, he led a news conference saying Turner suffered from schizophrenia and it's possible she was mentally unstable at the time of the confrontation with the officer.

Crump said a private autopsy will be conducted to learn where Turner was shot, among other things. He added that the officer didn't give Turner any verbal commands before shooting her, according to the video.

Crump also said he and Turner's family question whether she shot at the officer using his taser gun. The attorney is demanding the release of the officer’s body camera footage, as well as video surveillance from the apartment complex where the incident occurred.

Turner's son and daughter, Cameron January and Chelsie Ruben, spoke at the news conference, saying she was a good mother. “She didn’t deserve this,” said January.

Two of Turner's sisters, Antoinette Dorsey-James and Tracy Frazier, also talked about her, saying she was a loving and caring person. “On that evening,” Frazier said, “her rights were violated in every possible way that her rights could be violated.”

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