Texas officer indicted on assault charges for shooting of black woman in 2019
A police officer in Baytown, Texas, was indicted on assault charges in connection to the fatal shooting of Pamela Turner in 2019.
A grand jury indicted Baytown Officer Juan Delacruz on charges of aggravated assault by a public servant on Monday over his role in Turner’s death. Delacruz has maintained that he acted in self-defense after Turner, a 44-year-old black woman, took his Taser during an arrest in 2019.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said that Delacruz will be given a chance to turn himself in to process the charges. If he is found guilty, he could spend up to five years in prison.
“It is important to acknowledge that [Turner’s] family and the community are in pain,” Ogg said.
Delacruz’s charges stemmed from an arrest in 2019, when the officer confronted Turner and attempted to arrest her because he knew she had outstanding warrants from “prior dealings” with her. Bystanders captured video of the arrest, which appeared to show Turner grabbing Delacruz’s Taser and shocking him before he reached for her weapon and shot her five times.
Prior to the shooting, Turner said that Delacruz was “harassing” her, and she told him that she was pregnant.
Greg Cagle, Delacruz’s attorney, told USA Today that the indictment was politically motivated. He said it was clear that Delacruz was protecting himself after Turner stole his Taser.
“When someone takes a police officer’s Taser and then uses it against them, the officer is left with no options other than deadly force. That’s how the officers are trained,” Cagle said.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Turner family and the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake, said that Delacruz knew Turner before the arrest because they lived in the same building.
Crump said that Turner suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and that Delacruz knew about her mental illness. He also noted that Delacruz would have known that his Taser could not be fired again after the first time it was used by Turner, so he was not at risk when he fired his weapon.
“He absolutely knew that Taser could not be fired again without her changing the cartridge. And he did not have to use deadly force while she was laying on her back,” Crump told Houston Public Media in 2019.