Juan Delacruz, an 11-year officer with the Baytown Police Department, shot and killed a 44-year-old Texas woman Monday night in the parking lot of the apartment complex where she lived, authorities said — an altercation that a witness captured on video.
According to police, Delacruz was patrolling the Brixton Apartments in Baytown, a midsize Texas city east of Houston, at 10:40 p.m., when he saw the woman, identified as Pamela Shantay Turner. Authorities said she was wanted on outstanding warrants for assault and criminal mischief, and the officer knew her from previous interactions.
Delacruz tried to arrest her and a “struggle ensued,” Baytown police Lt. Steve Dorris said.
Witness video from the encounter, which was posted to social media and quickly went viral overnight, shows the officer attempting to apprehend the woman near a parked vehicle. At least one person can be seen standing in a yard watching.
“I’m walking,” Turner says. “I’m actually walking to my house.”
The video is dark, but it shows her breaking free from the officer and moving toward the apartment buildings.
“You’re actually harassing me,” she says. There is a popping noise, then the sound of a deploying Taser gun. The two appear to struggle and the woman falls to the ground.
She yells, “I’m pregnant!” though police later said the medical examiner confirmed she was not.
The Taser noise is heard again. Delacruz backs away, and she sits up. Then he shoots — rapidly, five times.
Dorris told reporters Monday night that the woman was struck by at least one bullet and died at the scene.
According to police, Delacruz tried to deploy his Taser at the woman during the struggle. When he tried to handcuff her, she grabbed the Taser and turned it back on the officer. The Taser grazed the officer, something police call a “drive stun,” zapping him momentarily. That’s when he pulled his gun and fired, Dorris said.
“It’s a tragic event for everybody involved,” Dorris said during an interview with local CBS affiliate KHOU. “Of course, our hearts go out to the families of the deceased as well as our officer.”
Delacruz remained on paid administrative leave Thursday evening. Dorris said he was not injured severely enough to be treated at a hospital.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is investigating, and the department will also conduct an internal review.
Paid administrative leave is “not a vacation,” Dorris said. “They need time to cope with that and wrap their brains around what transpired.”
Dorris said Delacruz was wearing a body camera during the shooting, but authorities have not released the footage since the investigation is ongoing.
Raquelle Cuellar, a resident in the apartment complex, told ABC 13 that the woman was often spotted walking her dog in the area. “It was a sad situation,” Cuellar said. “Tragic.”
Floyd Rubin, who said he shares two children with Turner, told CNN that authorities have not shared any information with him and his family about the shooting.
Dorris told reporters that police would like to interview the person who witnessed the shooting and made the video, though he was critical of the decision to post it to social media.
“It’s unfortunate that someone takes a tragic incident like this and starts posting it on social media,” Dorris told KHOU. “It’s extremely disrespectful for everybody involved. But that’s the day and age we live in with social media.”
Since 2015, The Washington Post has maintained a database of fatal officer-involved shootings in the United States. In the first five months of 2019, at least 323 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States.
Conversations about implicit bias and their deadly consequences have defined the past decade, and video recordings of encounters between civilians and police have helped raise awareness of police use of force.
Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.