One year ago, Baytown woke up to news of the shooting death of a 44-year-old woman, Pamela Turner, during an attempted arrest at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Garth Road.
On Wednesday, her family’s attorney hosted a press conference to raise the question of why the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has not yet determined if charges will be filed against the police officer that pulled the trigger.
“When the DAs do nothing, this is what happens,” Chelsea Rubin, Turner’s daughter, said at the press conference.
About 10:40 p.m. Monday, May 13, 2019, on-duty Baytown police officer Juan Delacruz attempted to stop Turner, who was walking in the apartment complex where she lived.
Delacruz, who lived at the complex and provided security services to it, said he knew Turner had outstanding arrest warrants.
Court records at the time showed she had warrants related to incidents at the apartment complex.
When Delacruz tried to arrest Turner, the two got into an argument that attracted the attention of a nearby resident, who began recording the confrontation, which turns physical and ends with Delacruz shooting Turner. Turner gained control of the officer’s Taser in the struggle.
That video was widely shown across both social media and traditional media, going viral even before police left the scene.
Turner’s family retained Ben Crump to represent them. Crump is known nationally for representing the families of African American persons killed by police officers.
In the wake of the shooting, Baytown police chief Keith Dougherty asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the shooting to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Baytown police said the department’s Internal Affairs investigation would not be completed until results of the Ranger investigation were received, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said it would not complete its investigation of the shooting until receiving the Ranger investigation report.
The Rangers turned their investigation results over to the District Attorney’s Office in late 2019. At that time, Baytown police said they did not receive those results.
In addition to addressing the lack of progress on the case, Crump said the family has since learned what model of Taser was used, and it calls into question the claim that the officer feared having the Taser used on him.
“I want it to be clear that the family of Pam Turner, on the anniversary of her death feels that the Baytown Police Department at best misled them and at worst outright lied to them” in the claim of self-defense.
“We have learned that the Taser that was used that they claim was able to be used against him in that moment—that’s why he had to fire—well, we know now that that Taser model, X26P, is a single-shot weapon, which means Ms. Turner would have needed to reload the Taser with a new cartridge in order to fire the Taser a second time.”
Crump said that the officer would have been aware of the Taser’s limitation and known that it had been discharged.
The Baytown Police Department did not respond specifically to the questions raised about the Taser.
Police spokesman Lt. Steve Dorris said, “As you know we turned the case over to the Texas Rangers who conducted an extensive and independent investigation into the incident.
It is our understanding that the case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for their review and presentation to a Grand Jury and as such it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any aspects of the case and/or the investigation other than to say we too are patiently waiting for it to be presented to the Grand Jury.
“Chief Dougherty is committed to building strong and trusting relationships with our citizenry as he continues to be engaged with community leaders in an ongoing effort to build trust, faith and confidence between the Baytown Police Department and members of our community.”
Officer Delacruz remains assigned to non-enforcement administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
District Attorney’s Office spokesman Michael Krolenc said, “Our independent review is taking some time to complete, but our Civil Rights Division prosecutors continue their work.
“They were on the scene in May 2019 and will present all the evidence to a grand jury. The grand jury will decide whether a criminal charge should be filed, and if so, the charge.”
Following the incident, Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo created a community advisory committee chaired by Rev. Raphael Montgomery to advise the city and police department in ways to improve the police department’s relationship with both the black community and mentally ill persons.
That committee has held several meetings and public sessions, but has not been active since the COVID-19 situation stopped most meetings.
Montgomery said the committee would continue its work when it can resume meeting.