A police officer in Texas has been indicted on an aggravated assault charge stemming from the 2019 death of Pamela Turner, a Black woman who suffered from schizophrenia. Officer Juan Delacruz of the Baytown Police Department fatally shot Turner last May in her apartment complex.
According to CNN, the incident began when Delacruz confronted Turner in the complex — where he reportedly also lived — about outstanding warrants. A video taken by a witness showed a struggle between the two, while Turner repeatedly asked Delacruz why he was trying to detain her. Turner also accused the cop of harassing her and yelled that she was pregnant.
At the time, the Baytown Police Department claimed that Turner grabbed Delacruz’s taser during the scuffle and used it against him before he fired multiple shots at her. The 44-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. She reportedly was not pregnant.
On Monday (Sept. 14), the police department responded to Delacruz’s indictment. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault by a public servant after Turner’s death was investigated by the Texas Rangers. He reportedly is still employed by the department but is on non-enforcement status.
“We have faith and trust in our judicial system and as we wait for this case to proceed through the legal process, we ask that our community continue to be patient and have trust and faith in those processes,” the department said in a statement, per ABC 13. “We also ask that our community continue to have faith and trust in the Baytown Police Department and the dedicated, professional men and women who are committed to serving all members of our community with integrity, compassion and professionalism.”
Some community members and activists told ABC they felt Delacruz’s indictment was long overdue. According to District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office, the cop will be given the opportunity to turn himself in.
“Pam Turner’s killing was a tragedy; it is important to acknowledge that her family and the community are in pain,” Ogg said in a statement. “Every aspect of the case was independently investigated by the Texas Rangers and our Civil Rights Division prosecutors. Ultimately, we presented all of the evidence to a grand jury that determined the Baytown Police officer should be charged with a crime for his actions when he shot Ms. Turner. We respect their decision and we will be moving forward with prosecution.”
If convicted, Delacruz could be sentenced to five years to life in prison.