BAYTOWN, Texas - A Texas police officer shot and killed a woman who police say grabbed his Taser and used it on him, moments after she seemed to say "I'm pregnant" in an altercation captured on video.
Pamela Turner was shot around 10:40 p.m. Monday at an apartment complex in the Houston-area community of Baytown, police Lt. Steve Dorris said Tuesday.
The lieutenant said police have since learned from the medical examiner's office in Harris County that Turner, who was 44 and black, was not pregnant. She was pronounced dead at the scene, he said. A spokeswoman with the medical examiner's office declined to comment.
The lieutenant said the officer was patrolling the complex about 25 miles east of Houston and tried to arrest the 44-year-old African American woman because he knew she had outstanding warrants. The officer, who is Hispanic and an 11-year veteran of the department, had previous dealings with Turner, but Dorris did not provide further details about the interactions or Turner's warrants.
The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, Dorris said.
The cell phone video shows the unnamed officer and Turner struggling on the ground. Turner and the officer engaged in a struggle after he sought to arrest her. The officer opened fire after Turner grabbed his Taser and struck him in the groin with it, shocking him, Dorris said.
The officer wasn't seriously hurt, the lieutenant said.
In the video, which is circulating on social media, Turner is heard saying "You're actually harassing me" and "I'm actually walking to my house" before falling to the ground. While on her back, she appears to struggle with the officer, saying "Why? Why?" and then "I'm pregnant." Turner then appears to reach up towards the officer and, moments later, he fires five shots, killing her.
Dorris said Turner was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators are trying to contact whoever recorded the video because the person was a witness to the shooting, the lieutenant said.
Neighbors say the officer lives in the same complex and Turner was often outside walking her dog.
“He was standing over her right here when she tried to get up,” recalled witness Lisa Carr. “And ‘Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!’ Just like that right here.”
“I saw blood coming from her face, and I smelled gun powder,” said Jared Fischesser, who lives nearby. “All I saw was the officer doing CPR on the lady. She was down on the floor already.”
Court documents show Turner was facing assault and criminal mischief charges for allegedly lashing out at her property manager after receiving an eviction notice and breaking the windshield of someone else's car.
Police say early indications are the officer was within his rights.
“If someone takes your taser away from you and starts tasing you, there's a very good likelihood that it's going to escalate and get very bad for the officer,” Dorris said. “It's unfortunate, but it looks necessary.”
Around midday, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Baytown Police Department. Turner's family members were among those there.
“We want justice for our family,” said Kendra Riley, Turner’s cousin. “We want justice for her children and for her grandchildren.”
Court records, show little criminal history for Turner up until the last few weeks.
According to an affidavit, she was upset in late April about an eviction notice and attacked an apartment property manager. Police charged her with misdemeanor assault.
Police also say she threw a wood log through someone’s car window days later. After that incident, a judge ordered she undergo a mental health evaluation.
Family members and neighbors say Turner had recently struggled with mental health issues.
"She was a loving caring person,” said Tomeka Johnson, Turner’s niece. “She’s not the monster that they’re trying to make her out to be. She didn’t deserve this."
According to neighbors and family on scene, Turner has two adult children.
The officer was wearing a body camera. It's unclear if that video will be released.