BAYTOWN, Texas (AP) – A Houston-area police officer who fatally shot a woman with mental illness is back on the job but not the streets.
Baytown police Officer Juan Delacruz returned to work Monday, according to a department spokesman. He’ll be on administrative duty during the investigation into his shooting of 44-year-old Pamela Turner.
Delacruz’s return to duty was announced Thursday as community leaders, elected officials and Turner’s family gathered at a Houston church to memorialize her and call for justice.
“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,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist, said during a eulogy. “If he’s going back to work, we’re going back to work too to get justice for Pamela Turner.”
Turner is the latest in a line of black people whose deaths in police shootings were captured on video and drew national attention.
Delacruz shot Turner on May 13 after she hit him with his Taser in a struggle during an attempted arrest, police have said. Turner’s family has presented the Hispanic officer as the aggressor, saying he was Turner’s neighbor , knew she had paranoid schizophrenia and should have de-escalated the situation.
A lawyer for the family said Wednesday that video of the incident and a private autopsy show Delacruz shot Turner in the stomach, chest and facewhile a “safe distance” away.
The Texas Rangers and the civil rights division of the Harris County district attorney’s office are investigating the shooting.