Criminal Justice

NAACP says Juan Delacruz not guilty verdict in Pamela Turner death unjust, wants him fired

The NAACP and other local civil rights activists are prepared to hit the streets of Baytown and protest the ruling.

Shavonne Herndon / Houston Public Media
Houston NAACP president James Dixon stands at the podium, and calls for Baytown officer Juan Delacruz to be fired after the shooting death of Pamela Turner.

Houston's NAACP is calling for Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz to be fired after he was cleared of charges in the shooting death of Pamela Turner.

NAACP President James Dixon says the justice system ignored several key factors that would have convicted Delacruz. A jury on Tuesday found him not guilty in the 2019 deadly shooting.

"The jury did not hear information that Delacruz knew Pamela Turner prior to this incident. That was not admissible. Pamela Turner’s health condition was not admissible," Dixon said. "The fact that Officer Delacruz had contacted Pam Turner’s family before the incident, these are vital factors that were not allowed to be admitted by the judge.

In 2019, the Baytown officer shot 44-year-old Turner three times during an attempted arrest. Delacruz said Turner reached for his Taser. Turner's family said she had schizophrenia, and on Tuesday, Turner's daughter said the officer had been in contact with the family prior to the shooting, about getting help for Turner.

"That shooting death was tragic enough, but to add further to this injustice is the outcome of the trial which occurred on yesterday, today, where the shooter in this incident was declared innocent. This verdict is simply inhumane," Dixon added. "Clearly, to observers in the courtroom, the district attorney faced several stop signs that were erected by the judge."

Delacruz lived in the same apartment complex as Turner, and had encounters with her before the shooting.

"The shooting never should have happened in the first place, but to add insult to injury, for the officer to be acquitted and found not guilty is a travesty of justice," State Representative Ron Reynolds said. "What happened in Harris County is a threat to justice all over America and this should be an outcry."

Reynolds is calling for a federal investigation done.

"This can't get swept away, hoping this doesn’t go away," Reynolds said. "I’m hoping that there will inevitably be justice for the family and to send a message to others that may be thinking about perpetuating similar crimes, that you will not be able to escape being prosecuted and found guilty because this sends the wrong message. What we saw from yesterday, this was a complete travesty. Anyone with a moral conscience, they should be outraged, and they should be joining us in our fight for justice."

Meanwhile the NAACP and other local civil rights activists are prepared to hit the streets of Baytown and protest the ruling. Delacruz has been on paid administrative leave since the incident.

"We will not stop here. We will not go back to business as usual," Dixon concluded. "Because as we speak there is a police officer with a gun and a badge with this mindset on the streets of Baytown."

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