Interaction between officer and Baytown woman was ‘lawful and unavoidable': TMPA

The executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association released a statement following the officer-involved shooting in Baytown that left a woman with mental illness dead.

The Baytown Police Department has now asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the fatal shooting.

Kevin Lawrence, the executive director of TMPA, said the organization is “disheartened to see several crucial details consistently absent from the media's coverage or not given appropriate weight.”

“The completely irresponsible news coverage that has occurred has led to civil unrest, which has significant consequences for our communities' public safety, and the relationship between law enforcement and the people of Texas,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said media outlets claimed Pamela Turner, 44, was not armed, but became armed when she wrestled the officer’s taser away from him.

“At this point, Ms. Turner has committed a felony offense (disarming a police officer) and was now armed herself,” he continued.

Lawrence said the officer involved in the incident, an 11-year veteran of the Baytown department, was familiar with Turner and knew she has warrants from previous offenses and “he (the officer) followed his duty under Texas state law.”

The struggle and the shooting were captured on Snapchat video. On the video, the woman seems to be heard saying "I'm pregnant", but Baytown police say she was not pregnant.

The police department says the officer attempted to render aid, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Read TMPA’s full statement here:

"Most importantly, to begin, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) sincerely offers the family and loved ones of the officer involved and Pamela Turner our deepest condolences. Every one impacted by this tragic event are in the thoughts and prayers of our association.

While there has been a media firestorm over the last twenty-four hours surrounding what happened in Baytown, Texas, TMPA is disheartened to see several crucial details consistently absent from the media's coverage or not given appropriate weight. The completely irresponsible news coverage that has occurred has led to civil unrest, which has significant consequences for our communities' public safety, and the relationship between law enforcement and the people of Texas.

First, Texas police officers do not have discretion on effecting arrests for individuals they know have outstanding warrants. The officer in this incident, an 11-year veteran of the Baytown department, was familiar with Ms. Turner and had knowledge of warrants for her arrest on previous offenses, and he followed his duty under Texas state law. In short, the interaction between the officer and Ms. Turner was lawful and unavoidable.

Second, the media has repeatedly claimed that Ms. Turner was not armed. After she initiated a struggle by resisting the lawful arrest of the officer, he deployed his taser. Ms. Turner then successfully wrestled his taser away from him and began to use it against him. At this point, Ms. Turner has committed a felony offense (disarming a police officer) and was now armed herself.

Any officer-involved shooting is a tragedy. TMPA and its members deeply recognize the importance of the relationship between law enforcement and the great people of our state and these incidents are serious and demand serious reflection and investigation. The state and national press, however, have done all of Texas law enforcement a disservice in their portrayal of events thus far and our members, as well as all officers in Texas, deserve better.

TMPA asks everyone to allow the established process for thoroughly investigating these tragic events to unfold and to respect the families of all those involved during this extremely difficult time."