BAYTOWN, Texas - Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz went into the courthouse Tuesday morning a man who could have spent the next few decades in prison, but he left in the afternoon a completely free man.
"We the jury find the defendant Juan Delacruz not guilty."
The not guilty verdict for Officer Delacruz for the May 13, 2019, shooting death of Pamela Turner was not what Turner’s family wanted to hear.
"There are no words. I mean he ripped my heart out May 13 and then the judge come here and ripped it out again," says Turner’s sister Antoinette Dorsey-James.
"They keep coming up with all these intellectual justifications for police killing black women in America and never being held accountable," adds Turner family Civil Attorney Ben Crump.
"I want to tell this family how sorry we really are for them because Pam deserved a better ending," says Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Delacruz shot and killed Turner at the apartment complex where both lived, while trying to arrest her for outstanding warrants after Delacruz tased her, then he says she took the taser and used it on him.
Ogg says jurors likely reached their decision because they weren’t allowed to hear how Delacruz knew Turner and was aware she suffered mental illness due to several previous encounters.
"They could only base it on the evidence that the judge allowed into the trial. Disallowed was the past relationship. The mental health of the victim. The fact that Baytown had their own mental health squad, and that this officer disregarded his own general orders," Ogg explains.
"The judge did not allow the fact that they had a relationship, as far as him harassing her. He didn’t allow the fact that this man violated policy and procedure. He didn’t allow the fact that I filed a police report against him when my sister was still alive. He did not allow any facts or any evidence that supported her," says Turner’s sister.
"He called my phone, and he talked to me, and he told me he was trying to get my mom help. You don’t get her help by killing her. You don’t kill someone that you know has a mental illness, and you don’t approach them at 10 o’clock at night trying to serve an arrest warrant," adds Turner’s daughter Chelsei Rubin.
Ogg says when jurors don’t have all of the information, "It’s hard for justice to occur."
Jurors deliberated for about eight hours beginning Monday afternoon before reaching the not guilty verdict this afternoon.
Delacruz, his family, and his attorneys left the courthouse without talking with the media.
Attorney Ben Crump released a statement late Tuesday saying: "This not guilty verdict is disappointing and heartbreaking for the family of Pamela Turner and everyone who has shown their support for them over the past few years. It is a national tragedy that Black women are continually neglected by the very systems that are meant to protect them. It is long overdue for Black women, their safety, and mental health to be seen as a priority instead of something that can be swept under the rug. We will keep fighting this battle even when the outcome in the court of law does not align with the moral compass of the cause."