Details of the shooting death of Pamela Turner show that she encountered police officer Juan Manuel Delacruz multiple times before the night that the Baytown, Texas cop fired five shots into her at close range.
Family members of Turner, 44, said that she had previous dealings with local law enforcement, and in particular, Delacruz, whom she believed was harassing her. Turner, who is Black, had “more than 10 times in the four months,” engaged with Delacruz, a Latino officer. Their encounters occurred at the apartment complex because he was the officer who showed up when management called the police on her.
At a press conference, Turner’s sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James said that when they arrived to the scene of the shooting, she asked the officers how they identified her.
Recounted Dorsey-James. “Their response was, ‘we know her, we’re familiar with her.’ And I say, ‘So you know her history, she has mental illness and y’all shot her down like this. And then [the police officers] didn’t say anything, they just walked away.”
Dorsey-James also said that officers began placing their hands on their guns when family members continued to demand answers.
Turner, who has been diagnosed with paranoia schizophrenia since 2005, resided at Brixton apartment complex for several months before the fatal incident. She was known by residents to have a mental illness and sometimes displayed polarizing behavior, but was viewed as harmless. Turner is described by her cousin, Antoinette Dorsey-James, as “a person who made friends quickly,” and was not violent.
Family also say that Delacruz was well aware of Turner’s mental health.
Turner’s daughter, Chelise Rubin said at press conference. “I still can’t believe my mom isn’t here. I’m waiting for her to call me every day like she did . . . My mom is not a horrible person.” Rubin gave birth to her second child just days before Turner was fatally shot by Delacruz.
The police sought to criminalized #PamelaTurner the unarmed #blackwoman who the police officer executed her at 10:40pm on May 13, 2019 in #Baytown, Texas, a suburb of #Houston, #Texas. pic.twitter.com/lkTx2x25fx
— 360WISE ® (@Iam360WISE) May 16, 2019
On the night of Turner’s death, she was stopped by Delacruz while going to her house. Video footage by someone recording that night shows that Turner and Delacrux were in a heated conversation. At some point, Turner said, “you’re harassing me,” to Delacruz. Shortly, thereafter, Delacruz pulled out his stun gun then tased Turner. She grabbed for the Taser. In response, Delacruz steps back and fires at point blank range.
Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris said in a press conference that Turner resisted arrest. Dorris also commented that Delacruz was “forced to draw his weapon and fire multiple rounds” after Turner attempted to tase the officer after he stunned her.
A community shocked and in grief
Family members have continuously rallied to change the original narrative about Turner that circulated through mainstream news. “The media has portrayed her as a mentally ill monster monster . . . she was the most giving person, the most loving person, the most caring person . . . she had a baby spirit,” said Dorsette-James who told reporters that the family called her, “Nay Nay” as a nickname.
Local organizations have responded to the incident. The National Black United Front released a statement offering condolences to the family of Turner. As well, they called her death an “execution by a Baytown police officer.”
Kofi Taharka, the national chairperson of the Houston-based furthered:
The Global White Supremacy system and its agents of terror continue to inflict maximum damage spiritually, psychologically, physically and economically on the African/Black population in America. This has not changed in over 400 years.
What has changed is technology which allows the world to see in real time these atrocities. The psychological toll which, these occurrences take on our population is immense.
Based on direct face to face interaction with community members in Baytown, Texas; it comes as no surprise that the murder of Pamela Turner follows a pattern of police harassment of the population in the area. It has been alleged that the officer in question has a history of abusing community members.
As we move towards the birth anniversary of Minister Malcolm X (May19) his statement of over 50 years ago rings true today “The most disrespected woman in America is the Black Woman. The most unprotected woman in America is the Black woman. The most neglected woman in America is the Black woman.” Therefore, it is the obligation and human right of our community to protect her at all cost. Only deep structural changes in our community and the society at large will bring an end to such terror.
We have no confidence in an investigation led by the Texas Rangers. However, we do have confidence in our Creator, Ancestors, The People and The Righteousness of our great and mighty quest for justice.
Since Turner’s death, NBUF has been in contact with community members. According to Taharka, multiple residents say that the incident has “disturbed and traumatized” them. Dorsey-James fell into tears when describing the moment she saw on tape, Turner’s death. “I never seen nothing like it in my life . . . he killed my baby, he executed her . . . and all I see was she begging, ‘leave me alone, leave me alone,” she cried out.
Delacrux is on paid administrative leave.
NBUF is holding a vigil for Turner on Sunday, May 19, at 4PM at the Brixton Apartments. Group members say that trauma and grief counselors will be available.
Ark Republic is an independent media company that provides a platform for free-thinking folk to tell stories as complex and colorful as possible. We need your help to keep the wheels churning and the stories flowing. Please become and member or donate to an organization dedicated to giving you stories that keep you informed.