Baytown, Texas Shooting…Should Past Behavior Matter?
So, I understand that the officer (who as of right now has gone unnamed) that fired five shots at 44-year-old Pamela Turner killing her last night was her neighbor. The early reports are that he lived in the same Baytown apartment complex as she and that she complained about him harassing her in the past. Local reporters have indicated that the mystery officer knew that Pamela Turner had arrest warrants from previous dealings.
I didn’t intend to watch the killing. I’m sick and tired of seeing videos of unarmed black folks killed by law enforcement officers. These videos destroy my spirit knowing that there will be no significant consequence for the officer. Furthermore, I cannot stand the obligatory victim blaming that follows these shootings. We’ll now hear about Pamela Turner’s third-grade school discipline record and her unpaid speeding ticket from 2005. Her own family has already proclaimed her mental diagnosis to the press. I have wrestled with exactly how to articulate this question. But why does a victim’s past bad actions and/or mental health history factor into the discussion surrounding unarmed citizen killings by police?
Are we satisfied that wrongs committed yesterday justify an unlawful killing today?
Do we think that a victim’s mental disorders justify law enforcement’s use of lethal force? If a person killed by law enforcement has a mental health disorder, shouldn’t we continue to strictly scrutinize the necessity of the shooting? It’s as if we issue a blanket excuse for the killing of the mentally disabled. I don’t know if Pamela Turner had schizophrenia. I don’t know if she was pregnant (as she yelled in the video). What I know is that the mystery officer was in full uniform and was apparently attempting to arrest Pamela Turner as she walked to her own apartment. Pamela Turner did not want to be arrested and she resisted. The officer’s taser was deployed. I do not know by whom. Pamela Turner was on her back and the mystery officer discharged five shots from his weapon in her direction killing her.
A Baytown investigator has gone on record to justify the killing. He said that Pamela Turner grabbed the officer’s taser and used it on the officer. He mentioned that the officer could have been seriously hurt as a result.
After Pamela Turner yelled, “I’m pregnant,” you can hear the ‘popping’ sound of the taser as if it were being deployed. It is not clear on video, but Baytown police alleged that Pamela Turner had attempted to use the officer’s taser on him. You can also plainly see that the officer was in no distress as he stepped backward and pulled his service pistol from his holster shooting in Pamela Turner’s direction five times.
It’s amazing how we accept the police use of deadly force. There was no reason to shoot an unarmed woman lying on her back wearing a dress. Pamela Turner was not a deadly threat to this officer. She only wanted to go home.
May 28, 2019