Pamela Turner’s killer has gotten the second chance he made sure she would never get when he shot her multiple times at close range last week in suburban Houston.
The 45-year-old grandmother of three was laid to rest Thursday following a funeral that was eulogized by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The services at Lilly Grove Baptist Church in Houston took place on the same day it was reported that Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz was already back at work as if it was no big deal he killed Turner despite reportedly knowing she suffered from mental illness.
At least, that was the perception after the Associated Press reported Delacruz’s apparent triumphant return to duty was on Monday.
“I want Baytown, Texas, to know this is not something you’re going to brush under the rug and send the policeman back to work,” Sharpton said during the funeral. “If he’s going back to work, we’re going back to work too to get justice for Pamela Turner.”
Delacruz’s swift return to duty came one week after the fatal encounter in an apartment complex parking lot over what Turner’s family lawyers said were false pretenses. Following the briefest administrative leave, his quick new desk duty status was perhaps the greatest indication besides the killing itself that the Baytown Police Department was minimizing Turner’s death. Baytown Lt. Steve Dorris immediately defended the shooting and said Turner was the aggressor, forcing Delacruz to use lethal force. Turner’s family lawyer said she did not have outstanding warrants, contradicting Dorris’ claim of why Delacruz approached her in the parking lot.
Throughout it all, Delacruz, who reportedly lived in the same apartment complex as Turner, has remained silent without even an apology for his victim’s family.
Civil rights attorney and Turner family lawyer Ben Crump on Wednesday announced the findings on an independent autopsy performed on Turner, with the results horrifying her children. “Of the three gunshot wounds indicated in the report, two caused lethal injury – those to the chest and abdomen,” Crump said in a press release before adding, “an additional gunshot wound to Turner’s cheek, though not lethal, is what the family has found most devastating.”
The website of the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed last week that the “manner of death” for Turner was “homicide.” The primary cause of death was listed as “multiple gunshot wounds.”
The circumstantial and physical evidence of damning video evidence seemed to be insurmountable proof that Turner was murdered, but only time will tell if Delacruz will be indicted for the killing in a state that has seen a wide range of police shootings against unarmed Black people.
“He never gave her any verbal commands,” Crump told the Final Call recently. “There’s nothing on that video that shows that she was a threat to him in any way where he had to use unnecessary, unjustifiable, unimaginable, excessive force like he did in that video when he shot her five times at point blank range while she laid on the ground. It is just the most horrific murder that we’ve ever seen by one of these police officers killing an unarmed Black person, much less, an unarmed Black woman, which makes it all the more reprehensible.”
Turner’s death appeared to be the latest evidence that police routinely react to Black and brown suspects vastly different from white ones despite the level of threat posed to officers. That point was proven and then some this week when an “armed and dangerous” white man accused of shooting and killing one police officer while injuring two others in an Alabama trailer park was somehow able to be peacefully arrested.