Updated 8:47 a.m. CT Thursday, May 14, 2020
On May 13, 2019, Pamela Turner was shot and killed by a police officer outside of her Baytown apartment complex. Eyewitness video at the time showed her being shot several times by a police officer after an altercation between the two.
Baytown police said officer Juan Delacruz tried to arrest Turner for outstanding warrants but she resisted. The video appears to show Delacruz deploying his Taser as she was trying to get away, but it did not incapacitate her. Instead, police said, she grabbed the Taser. That's when they said the officer backed up and, fearing for his life, fired his gun, killing Turner.
But documents obtained by Houston Public Media from the city of Baytown via an open records request show that the Taser model Delacruz used was an X26P — a model that is incapable of shooting a second set of darts.
"He absolutely knew that Taser could not be fired again without her changing the cartridge,” Turner's family's attorney, Ben Crump, told Houston Public Media. “And he did not have to use deadly force while she was laying on her back."
Crump became aware of the model of the Taser through our reporting and during an online news conference he held Wednesday, Pamela Turner's daughter Chelsie Rubin said Baytown police should have given the family that information long ago.
"For the evidence to be withheld for so long, for them to try to cover it up and say that this is the reason that my mother had to be killed, it's just disgusting," Rubin said.
Crump is using the information to renew pressure on the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
"We're going to demand, based on this new information, that the district attorney, Kim Ogg, file charges against this police officer for unnecessary and unjustifiable use of deadly force of unarmed Pam Turner."
Crump is also asking for body camera footage to be released.
The Baytown Police Department declined comment, pointing to an active investigation by the DA.
But Delacruz's attorney, Greg Cagle, said it doesn't matter if the Taser couldn’t shoot more darts, because, even with an empty cartridge, it was still able to stun someone if held against them.
"The decision to use the force was at the point when she grabbed the Taser and was getting control of it," he said. "That's when he made the decision that he was going to have to use deadly force to protect himself. If she subsequently, in a half second or second, falls to the ground, the decision has already been made. Psychologically, there's no way to fix that."
The Texas Rangers investigated the incident and have forwarded the case to the District Attorney's Office, whose civil rights division is reviewing it.