Just days after a Baytown, Texas police officer was indicted by a grand jury in the shooting death of Pamela Turner, a 44-year-old woman who suffered from mental illness, lawyers for her family are calling it a step in the right direction and are anticipating a trial next month.
Family attorney Ben Crump called the indictment ”a significant step towards justice and a validation that her life has worth, that Pamela Turner’s life matters, that Black women’s lives matter equally in America,” said family attorney Ben Crump during a Thursday afternoon (Sept. 17) press conference. “We expect nothing less than full justice in the form of a conviction.”
RELATED: Texas Police Officer Charged After Killing Pamela Turner One Year Ago
The officer, Juan Delacruz, who has been with the Baytown police force since 2008 was charged with assault in the May 2019 shooting of Turner in the parking lot of the apartment complex where they both lived.
Delacruz had been patrolling the complex and tried to arrest Turner because he knew she had outstanding warrants, Police Lt. Steve Dorris told the Associated Press at the time. He said that during the arrest attempt, in which she said she was pregnant and accused him of harassing her, they struggled over his taser and she struck him with it, shocking him. In return, he pulled out his service revolver and opened fire, striking her three times and killing her.
A medical examination later determined that she was not pregnant, but Crump said she had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
A bystander recorded the entire incident on a cellphone, which Crump said was “one of the worst police shootings I have ever seen in my life.” The video, which was released the day after the shooting, has since gone viral. Delacruz was placed on administrative duty afterward, but not fired. After several months of protests in the community and a multitude of demonstrations across the nation about police violence involving African Americans, a grand jury was assembled to decide if Delacruz would stand trial.
Now that an indictment has been made, a trial has been scheduled to begin October 28. Crump says justice for the family can finally move forward.
“I know we’re talking about Breonna Taylor, I know we’re talking about George Floyd, we’re talking about Jacob Blake Jr., but do not forget how Pamela Turner was executed.” he said. “She was special, she was worthy of consideration and respect.”
Turner’s daughter Chelsie Rubin said that the family was elated that justice might be served.
“The news we received is the exact reason why we have not stopped calling my mother's name over the past 16 months,” she said. “It's good to know that the jurors in the room were able to see that Juan Delacruz deserved to be punished for the crime he committed. This is one step closer to getting the justice that my mom deserves. Because she didn't deserve to die, not like that.”
Photo Credit: Godofredo A Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP