(CNN) — An officer in Baytown, Texas, who fatally shot a woman with schizophrenia in 2019 was found not guilty of aggravated assault by a public servant on Tuesday, a court document shows.
Officer Juan Delacruz shot Pamela Shantay Turner, 45, after initially trying to arrest her because she had outstanding warrants, authorities have said. During a struggle between the two, Turner reached for Delacruz’s Taser and used it on him, police said.
Turner had schizophrenia, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented Turner’s family.
Gregory Cagle, an attorney for Delacruz, told CNN the Harris County District Attorney’s office had “no legal basis to charge” his client in the first place.
“When you’re a person and someone uses a deadly weapon against you — any person has a right to defend themselves against the use of a deadly weapon used against you in the state of Texas,” Cagle said. “Sadly, the prosecution of this case was politically, not factually, driven. It is reassuring for law enforcement to know that the jurors who served in this case were able to understand the facts of the case and reach the appropriate conclusion.”
Crump called the verdict “disappointing and heartbreaking.”
“It is a national tragedy that Black women are continually neglected by the very systems that are meant to protect them,” Crump said in a statement.
After the verdict was reached, the district attorney’s office said, “Bringing excessive use of force charges against an officer is always difficult and uncomfortable. We respect the jury’s verdict.”
At the time of his indictment in 2020, Delacruz was still employed by the Baytown Police Department but had been placed on non-enforcement status, CNN previously reported.
It’s unclear whether he’s still employed by Baytown Police. CNN has reached out to the department inquiring on Delacruz’s employment status.
Shooting was caught on video
Shaky cell phone video captured the interaction between Turner and Delacruz.
In the video, Turner yells at the officer, “I’m walking! I’m actually walking to my house!” and then accuses Delacruz of harassing her.
As he tries to handcuff the woman, she breaks free, prompting Delacruz to deploy his Taser. Turner slowly drops to the ground, the video shows.
A scuffle ensues, and Turner keeps yelling, “Why?” Delacruz continues his attempts to take her into custody, and Turner flails her arms and yells, “I’m pregnant!”
The woman appears to reach for the officer, who stands back and fires five rounds, the video shows.
Police later said Turner “was able to gain control of the Taser and used it on the officer.”
Delacruz attempted to administer first aid, police said, but Turner was pronounced dead at the scene.
A police spokeswoman has said Turner was not pregnant.
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