The Texas Rangers will conduct a separate investigation into the death of Pamela Turner, a 44-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a Baytown police officer, the police chief announced Wednesday.
“While Chief (Keith) Dougherty has full faith and confidence in his investigators, he has also heard and understands the public demands for transparency,” spokesman Lt. Steve Dorris said. “He wants the family of Ms. Turner and the community to have the same faith and confidence in their police department, and the officers who work hard every day to keep our community safe.”
Evidence and information that has been collected has been turned over to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Texas Ranger Division, Dorris said. The Baytown Police Department will conduct a separate investigation through its internal affairs division, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will bring evidence to a grand jury to determine whether the officer will be formally charged in the encounter.
The announcement came hours after dozens of protesters, led by rapper Trae Tha Truth, gathered in an east Houston parking lot to call for an indictment in Turner’s death.
“At the end of the day, my main thing is I don’t want this to be a situation where it gets swept under the rug,” Trae Tha Truth said.
Baytown police have yet to identify the officer who shot and killed Turner while trying to arrest her at her apartment complex on Garth Road. Police said that Turner attempted to use the officer’s own Taser against him before he fired five shots.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who’s working with Turner’s family, said that the woman had paranoid schizophrenia, meaning the officer had a duty to respond differently in arresting her.
“Certain procedures should have taken place,” he said. “You don’t approach someone that you know to be suffering from a mental health condition the same way that you approach the average citizen.”
The Baytown Police Department hasn’t identified the officer, who is an 11-year veteran. A spokesman said they will investigate whether Turner had mental health issues, and whether that was known to the officer.