Baytown Officer Returns to Work on Day the Black Woman He Killed Was Memorialized
By Jeffrey L. Boney, Associate Editor Houston Forward Times, NNPA Newswire Contributor
On the day 44-year-old Pamela Turner was laid to rest, the officer who fatally killed her, Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz, was allowed to return to work after being placed on a mandatory three-day administrative leave, as if nothing ever happened.
The family expressed their outrage at the decision by the Baytown Police Department, along with several other individuals who have become involved with this case, after the Memorial Service held for Turner this past Thursday, May 24th at Lily Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
“We want Baytown, Texas to know that this is not something that you will brush under the rug and send the policeman back to work as if nothing ever happened,” said Rev. Al Sharpton who delivered the eulogy on behalf of the family. “If he’s going to work, you need to let him (Officer Delacruz) know that we are going to work too, getting justice for Pamela Turner.”
Sharpton continued, “Proverbs 6:16 says that God takes exception to those who shed innocent blood. At the end of the day, what did Pamela do? She tried to go home. She was only guilty of trying to go home. You restored this officer’s job, but who is going to restore Pamela, or her children or her loved ones?”
Attorney Benjamin Crump shared the details of an independent autopsy report that was done by Turner’s family, which described the graphic details of Turner’s death. According to the independent autopsy, out of the five bullets that came from Officer Delacruz’s gun, three of those bullets struck Turner from a distance. One shot hit Turner in the chest, another one in the abdomen and a final one struck her in the face, which left her face significantly disfigured and unrecognizable, according to the family.
“The details of this independent autopsy, coupled with the video that everyone has seen, make it clear as day…Officer Delacruz was not justified,” said Crump. “These key details show that Officer Delacruz did not have to shoot Pamela Turner. Pamela Turner posed no threat to him, whatsoever. We are calling on Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg to convene a grand jury without delay. It’s very clear that once you review that video, coupled with the autopsy, it tells you everything you need to know to arrive at how you present this evidence to a grand jury.”
U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee believes that Turner’s civil rights may have been violated and has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a dual investigation. She believes that one investigation is needed to address whether Turner’s civil rights were indeed violated and the other investigation she is requesting surrounds Turner’s mental illness past, and whether there are some alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It is clear to me that Pamela Turner was mis-treated as an individual, because it was known that she had mental health issues,” Congresswoman Jackson Lee stated. “Regardless of your ethnicity or your mental health status, no one should be treated without dignity and respect. It is imperative that we find out as much as we can about how Pamela Turner was treated, and I believe there are significant pieces of evidence available to convene a grand jury in this matter.”
In the meantime, the Texas Rangers continue their investigation into the shooting and Harris County D.A. Ogg has stated that her office’s Civil Rights Division is currently investigating the case and would turn over all of their findings to a grand jury to make a determination on whether any charges should be filed against Officer Delacruz for his role in Turner’s brutal killing.
These past several days have been extremely tough for Turner’s family, but having the officer who fatally killed their loved one be allowed to return to work on what was supposed to be a day of comfort and reflection, and before a full investigation has even been concluded, was viewed as a huge slap in the face by Turner’s family, the family’s attorneys, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, Rev. Al Sharpton, community activists, members of the faith-based community and many other community leaders.
The day served as a difficult time for this grieving family, who simply wanted to focus on trying to celebrate the life and legacy of their precious loved one but were instead forced to have the man who abruptly took Turner’s life in such an unsuspecting manner, on their minds that day.