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Pamela Turner has been identified by her family as the 44-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a Baytown Police Department officer at an apartment complex in the Texas city. Turner’s family says she has suffered from mental illness, KPRC-TV reports. In the graphic video of the shooting, Turner can be heard yelling, “I’m pregnant,” moments before she was shot, but Baytown Police say they have confirmed she was not actually pregnant.
Baytown Police say the shooting occurred during a struggle over the unnamed officer’s Taser. Lieutenant Steve Dorris said in a Facebook post, “It appears that as the officer was then attempting to handcuff the female she was able to gain control of his Taser and turned it on the officer, Tasing the officer, which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the female, striking her at least once.” Turner was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting happened about 10:40 p.m. Monday, May 13, at The Brixton Apartments on Garth Road in Baytown, according to police. The city of about 76,000 is located in Harris County, Texas, near Houston.
Turner’s family has called the shooting unjustified, according to KPRC-TV. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, with the Baytown Police Department being assisted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Here’s what you need to know about Pamela Turner and the Baytown shooting:
1. The Video Shows the Officers Firing at Pamela Turner 5 Times as She Sits Up From the Ground
In the video posted to Facebook and Twitter by multiple users, which you can watch above, Pamela Shantay Turner can be heard telling the officer she is walking to her house. The officer who shot Turner appears to be the only officer at the scene during the incident. Turner can be seen walking as she tells the officer he is “harassing” her. The pop of a stun gun can be heard as the officer appears to fire his Taser at the Turner. It is not clear if the stun gun hit Turner
Turner can then be seen on the ground with the officer on top of her, trying to grab her hands. Turner yells, “I’m pregnant,” and the officer steps away from her as she appears to be moving her hands near his legs. As the Turner sits up, the officer fires his gun five times and Turner falls back to the ground. It is not clear how many times she was shot.
Witnesses have said on social media that Turner was unarmed, but police have not confirmed if the woman was armed or not, or if a weapon was recovered at the scene. Police have said that Turner was able to get the officer’s Taser away from him and used it on him. It is not clear from the video if that is true.
Baytown Police Lieutenant Steve Dorris told reporters a preliminary investigation found it was necessary for the officer to use force. Dorris said, “If somebody takes your Taser away from you and starts tasing you, there’s a very good likelihood that this is going to escalate and get very bad for the officer from there.”
But members of the community and others on social media are calling for a more thorough investigation and have been questioning the police narrative of what happened, pointing out that often the facts that are released by police in early statements turn out to be incorrect. The shooting generated thousands of comments on the Baytown Police Department Facebook page, with many saying that the officer did not appear to have been justified in shooting Turner and saying that he should have been trained to find another way to defuse the situation, especially with Turner’s mental health issues.
2. Baytown Police Say the Officer Stopped Turner After Recognizing Her From Prior Interactions & Knowing She Had Active Misdemeanor Warrants for Her Arrest
Baytown Police Lieutenant Steve Dorris said in a post on the department’s Facebook page early Tuesday, “Baytown Detectives are on the scene of an Officer involved shooting in the 1600 block of Garth Road. It is very early in the investigation however what detectives have learned thus far is one of our officers, an 11 year veteran with the department, was patrolling an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Garth Road when he came across a 45-year-old female that he knew from previous encounters and knew she had outstanding warrants.”
Dorris added, “The officer contacted the female and attempted to arrest her at which time a struggle ensued, forcing the officer to deploy his department issued Taser at the female. It appears that as the officer was then attempting to handcuff the female she was able to gain control of his Taser and turned it on the officer, Tasing the officer, which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the female, striking her at least once.”
According to Dorris, “The female has been pronounced deceased at the scene.”
Pamela Shantay Turner did have outstanding warrants for her arrest, records show. She was wanted on two counts of criminal mischief and one count of assault resulting in bodily injury. The charges are all misdemeanors. Court records show that Turner’s $100 bond was revoked for an unknown reason on May 7, a week before she was shot and killed. Turner had been arrested on May 1 and posted bond on May 4 in connection to an April 25 incident.
According to court documents obtained by Heavy, Turner was accused of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor criminal mischief after two separate incidents. Turner was accused of breaking a woman’s car window, causing $750 in damage, on May 1. In the assault case, she was accused of scratching a woman, causing a minor injury, during an incident on April 24.
Police said in the arrest report that Turner went into her apartment complex’s office on April 24 and was “irate” that an eviction notice had been issued. The victim told police she asked Turner to leave, but Turner refused. She said Turner then grabbed her face, knocking her glasses off and scratching her nose.
A Harris County judge ordered a mental health assessment citing “early identification of suspected mental illness or intellectual disability,” according to court documents.
Turner had previous convictions for misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor criminal trespassing in Harris County. She did not have any felony or other more serious charges on her record.
3. Turner’s Family Say She Takes Medication for Schizophrenia & Is a Mother of 2 & Grandmother of 3
Pamela Turner’s sister, Antoinette Dorsey, told KPRC-TV that Turner was a mother of two children, who are in their 20s, and a grandmother of three. Turner suffered from mental illness and was on medication for schizophrenia, her sister said.
Raquel Cuellar, who lives in the Brixton apartments complex, told CBS News, “Sometimes you would see her, you know, get into it with people around the apartments, but nothing too, you know, bad. It’s just, you know, just typical her. She’s not a bad person. She didn’t hurt nobody.”
Another resident, Jonathan Little said to KTRK-TV, “She was already on the ground. Why did you have to shoot her? Why did you have to kill her?”
Residents at the apartment complex said they knew Turner was mentally ill. “She wasn’t mentally competent. We always tried to look after her. She would walk outside at all hours of the night. I would tell the office management she should not be left alone,” one woman told KPRC-TV.
“If you know she has mental illness, why not ask for backup first before you try and detain her?” neighbor James Edison told KPRC. “He got up and she was barely getting up off the ground and he shot her like a dog. That’s wrong. And he needs to pay for it.”
4. Neighbors in the Apartment Complex Say Turner Wasn’t a ‘Bad Person’ & Her Family Says She Had Complained About the Officer, Who They Say Also Lives in the Complex, Harassing Her
On Facebook, other residents of the apartment complex said that Pamela Turner was “not a bad person,” and she was often seen around the apartment complex, smoking and walking her dog. Residents have said that the officer involved in the shooting also lived in the apartment complex. Police have not confirmed whether that is true and have not released the officer’s name.
Turner’s family told KPRC-TV that she had complained about the officer who shot her “harassing” her in the past. Police did say that the officer recognized Turner from previous interactions, but did not provide details about those incidents. It is not clear if she had ever filed a formal complaint against the officer.
Turner’s neighbor, Taylin Inniss, told NBC News, “They must’ve had a couple of words. Things went a whole different way, and he shot her, and I really feel for the family and I hope they get some type of justice. I just pray for them honestly because life is short nowadays.”
Another neighbor, Jonathan Little, told KPRC-TV, “She would walk her dog. that’s all she did was walk her dog and pick up trash. She didn’t mess with anybody. It was just her and her dog.”
5. A Police Spokesman Said the Has Been Put on Paid Leave & Said It Was ‘Disrespectful’ That Someone Recorded the Shooting & Posted It on Social Media
Baytown Police Lieutenant Steve Dorris said the investigation is ongoing. “The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is on scene and assisting in the investigation, as is normal in these types of incidents. Any future updates will be provided via an official press release later today, as the investigation unfolds,” Dorris said.
According to the Baytown Sun, Dorris said the officer has been placed on three days of paid administrative leave, which is the “usual practice” for the department. Dorris told the newspaper he does not believe the officer has shot anyone previously.
Dorris criticized the witness who posted the video on social media.
“It’s unfortunate that somebody takes a tragic incident like this and posts it on social media,” Dorris told KPRC-TV. “It’s extremely disrespectful for everybody involved, but that’s the day and age we live in with social media.”
Dorris added, “It’s a tragic event for everybody involved,” said Dorris. “Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased, as well as our officer.”
The ACLU of Texas pushed back against Dorris in a statement.
“The ACLU of Texas calls for an independent investigation into the tragedy in Baytown and the immediate release of the officer’s body camera footage. The escalation seen on bystander video from a simple stop to the use of brutal deadly force is shocking and raises serious concerns. There are too many questions about this tragic loss of life, and the public deserves transparency,” ACLU of Texas legal director Andre Segura said in a statement. “The Baytown Police Department has stated that it was ‘disrespectful’ for bystander video of the shooting to be posted online – that is wrong. There is nothing disrespectful or inappropriate about documenting or sharing video of the way the police act in our communities, especially when they kill someone. Community members have the right to monitor, discuss, and ultimately control the way we are policed.”
Baytown, Texas, is a city of about 76,000 people in Harris County in the Houston area. The Baytown Police Department says on its Facebook page, “Our police department is currently comprised of 175 sworn officers and 56 support personnel. The department is divided into three Bureaus, each of which is under the command of an Assistant Chief. Although each Bureau is independent of the other, it is paramount that we all work together.”
Baytown PD Chief C. Keith Dougherty has led the department since 2008, according to the department’s website. Dougherty has not commented about the shooting. Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo has also not commented.
The Baytown Sun reports that residents gathered at the scene Tuesday morning, along with people who said they saw the video of the shooting on social media and were angered by what they watched.