UPDATED: 6:22 p.m. EDT —
A Texas police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black woman whose last words were “I’m pregnant!” following a physical confrontation in an apartment complex parking lot in suburban Houston Monday night. Family members identified Pamela Turner as the victim and reportedly have said the shooting in Baytown was “unjustified.”
The Baytown Police Department, which has been concealing the identity of the officer, described Turner as the aggressor in the Brixton Apartments complex parking lot, where the final moments of the encounter were recorded on video by a bystander.
“During the course of the attempted arrest, the female began struggling with the officer, which forced the officer to deploy his Taser,” Baytown Police Department Lt. Steve Dorris said. “That deployment was not effective, and the female was able to get the officer’s Taser away from him. (She) actually tased the officer, which forced the officer to draw his duty weapon and fire multiple rounds at the suspect.”
Turner was reportedly battling mental illness.
“Turner’s sister, Antoinette, said the woman has two children, both in their 20s, and three grandchildren. Antoinette also said the officer was Turner’s neighbor and she had previously complained about the officer harassing her,” local news outlet KPRC wrote. “Turner was on medication for schizophrenia, Antoinette said.”
Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris said the officer, who was patrolling the apartment complex, “had prior encounters with” Turner and “knew the woman had outstanding warrants, so he approached her to arrest her,” CBS News reported. That encounter turned into a struggle between the two, with the woman falling to the ground before the officer used his Taser on her. When she got up and pushed the officer away, the cop pulled out his gun and shot her multiple times at very close range.
Video of the shooting went viral overnight and spread quickly across social media. It was the latest instance of an unarmed Black person being killed when standard police training, in theory, should have allowed the officer to de-escalate the situation without resorting to lethal force. At best, the officer could have called for backup since his life did not appear to be in any kind of imminent danger.
CAUTION: The video of the shooting contains graphic imagery. Please exercise discretion if when watching it.
In addition to Baytown police seeming to place blame on Turner, the Houston Chronicle felt the need to report the irrelevant fact that “Turner was facing charges for allegedly assaulting the apartment manager after she had posted an eviction notice on Turner’s door April 24, court records show. That same day, the manager tried to get her to leave the apartment when Turner allegedly grabbed the manager’s face, scratching her nose and throwing her eyeglasses to the ground, court documents detail.”
The name of the officer has not been made public, but the Baytown Police Department confirmed he is Hispanic.
The shooting left many other questions unanswered. Chief among them was if the officer was already acquainted with Turner, according to those aforementioned “prior dealings” he had with her, then why wouldn’t he have been aware of her mental illness? Either way, it was unclear why he resorted to lethal force, especially against someone who was unarmed and appeared to pose no imminent physical threat.
Dorris announced later Tuesday afternoon that Turner was not pregnant, according to the Associated Press, which wrote that the lieutenant “didn’t elaborate on how police learned she was not pregnant. Autopsy results have not been released.”
That announcement came after protesters demonstrated outside of the Baytown Police Department holding signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Full Accountability,” according to MSN.