A Texas police officer has been charged with assault for fatally shooting a woman after a struggle over the officer’s stun gun last year, prosecutors have announced.
A Harris County grand jury indicted Baytown police officer Juan Delacruz on Monday for shooting Pamela Turner in the parking lot of an apartment complex where they both lived in May 2019.
Delacruz was charged with aggravated assault by a public servant, a felony that could lead to a sentence of five years to life in prison if he is convicted. Prosecutors said he will be given the chance to turn himself in.
It has been over 15 MONTHS since ofc. Juan Delacruz fatally shot #PamelaTurner while she was walking home. We still do not have justice! We must continue to #SayHerName and demand that ofc. Delacruz be held accountable! (🎨: c_ringness on IG) pic.twitter.com/Fcbx3ZGoqb
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 8, 2020
Delacruz shot Turner after a struggle with the 44-year-old Black woman that a bystander captured on video.
The footage showed Delacruz standing over Turner and reaching down to try to grab her arms.
Turner then yells, “I’m pregnant.” Moments later, something flashes as she reaches her arm out toward the officer. Suddenly, Delacruz pulls away and fires five gunshots.
Police in the Houston suburb said the Hispanic officer shot Turner during an attempted arrest after she shocked him with his Taser. Court records showed three outstanding misdemeanor warrants against Turner at the time.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Turner’s family, said last year that she was not pregnant but had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He said Delacruz knew his neighbour suffered from mental illness and shot her from a “safe distance” away.
Crump and Delacruz’s attorney did not immediately respond to the Associated Press news agency’s requests for comment.
Delacruz returned to work less than two weeks after the shooting, but the department said he would be on administrative duty while the Texas Rangers and the civil rights division of the Harris County district attorney’s office investigate the shooting.
The charge against Delacruz comes after months of protests over racism and police violence in cities across the country following the death of George Floyd in May.
Floyd, who was Black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who is up for election in November, on Monday called Turner’s death a tragedy. “It is important to acknowledge that her family and the community are in pain,” she said.
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Baytown police Lieutenant Steve Dorris asked in a statement for the community to maintain trust in the legal process and its police as the case proceeds.
He did not answer questions about Delacruz’s employment status or the internal affairs investigation into the shooting.