HOUSTON – Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the family of Pamela Turner held a news conference Thursday to address the indictment of the officer involved in Turner’s death.
Baytown police Officer Juan Delacruz turned himself into police custody Tuesday following the indictment. He is charged with aggravated assault by a public servant, and according to Crump, the district attorney got it right because there is proof enough for a conviction. The charge is graded as a felony 1, which means he can face from five years up to life in prison.
“It is the equivalent of murder,” Crump said.
Turner’s daughter, Chelsie Rubin and sister, Antoinette Dorsey-James both said they were happy about the indictment as it was the first step to getting Turner the justice she deserves.
“This is one step closer to getting the justice that my mom deserves and allowing her to rest respectfully... Juan Delacruz deserves to be punished for the crime that he committed, he took my mother’s life, she will never come back, I will never hear her voice again,” Rubin said.
Dorsey-James said she hopes Delacruz is convicted and receives the maximum sentence.
“Delacruz took a beautiful soul, a loving person away from us and every day is harder and harder,” Dorsey-James said.
Prior to the news conference, Crump released a statement that said:
“Like Breonna Taylor, Pamela Turner was unjustly targeted and killed by police and had her name sullied by law enforcement in an attempted cover-up. The indictment of the officer in the Pamela Turner Case and the settlement in the Breonna Taylor case are both crucial steps in bringing much-needed and past-due attention (to) the treatment of Black women in this country.”
Crump repeated those remarks at the start of the news conference and said the decision to indict Delacruz is validation that Turner’s life has worth and that Black women’s lives matter. Turner was special and worthy of consideration and respect, Crump said.
“This week we applaud and thank Kim Ogg in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Grand Jury for sending a clear message that Black lives matter and Black women’s lives matter, too,” Crump said.
Devon Jacob, another noted civil rights attorney and former police officer, said Delacruz used excessive force on Turner. It was abundantly clear from the video that the shooting was completely unnecessary, Jacob said.
Crump agreed with Jacob’s sentiment, calling Turner’s death “the worst police shootings I have ever seen in my life.”
“It was so unnecessary, so unjustifiable. But yet, for over a year and a half, (officials) tried to justify the unjustifiable and break the heart of this family every day they woke up with no charges,” Crump said. “... Why is it that Black women and Black people like George Floyd have to so passionately try to justify them(selves) not being brutalized by the police.”
Despite the indictment, Jacob said Delacruz still has a badge, which is unacceptable. According to Jacob, there is no reason he should still have a badge and Delacruz should have been taken into custody the night of the shooting.
By allowing him to keep the badge, Jacob said the Baytown Police Department is sending a message that they support Delacruz and his actions. Jacob said the Baytown police chief either needs to step down or take a step back and apologize for their support of Delacruz.
Jacob said he and Crump expect to file a civil lawsuit against Delacruz within 30 days. They were waiting because any earlier action may have undermined the criminal investigation.
“(Turner) was a person. She was a mother. She was a sister. She had people who loved her,” Jacob said. “... It is my personal mission to make sure that Officer Delacruz is held accountable for his objectively unreasonable force.”
Delacruz’s first appearance is set for Oct. 28.