Texas officer shoots and kills woman after stun-gun struggle

Josh Stokes holds a protest sign outside the police department on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 in Baytown, Texas. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2019

Texas officer shoots and kills woman after stun-gun struggle

  • The officer, who police have not identified by name, has been placed on paid administrative leave

BAYTOWN, Texas: A police officer shot and killed a woman at a Houston-area apartment complex after she hit him with his Taser during a struggle, shocking him, police said.
In a video recorded by a witness and posted on social media, the officer can be seen standing over Pamela Turner and reaching down to try to grab her arms. Turner, who is lying on the ground outside the apartments in Baytown, yells “I’m pregnant.” Moments later, something flashes as she reaches her arm out toward the officer. Suddenly, the officer pulls away from Turner, steps back and fires five gunshots.
Police Lt. Steve Dorris said Tuesday that the officer shot at Turner after she hit him in the groin with the Taser. Turner did not fire the stun gun but it shocked the officer when it struck him, Dorris said.
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 officer, who police have not identified by name, has been placed on paid administrative leave, Dorris said. The department is reviewing whether the shooting was in line with its policy on the use of deadly force, he said.
Before the shooting, the officer, who is Hispanic and an 11-year veteran of the police force, was patrolling the apartment complex and tried to arrest Turner because he knew she had outstanding warrants, Dorris said. The two had previous dealings, but Dorris did not provide further details about the interactions or Turner’s warrants.
Turner had three outstanding misdemeanor warrants for two separate incidents, according to Harris County court records. She was accused of criminal mischief and assault on April 25 after a manager at her apartment complex told police that Turner scratched her face and broke her glasses during a confrontation over an eviction notice.
On May 2, court records show, Turner was again accused of criminal mischief for damaging the back window of a woman’s car.
Following her May 2 arrest, Turner was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, according to court records.
The video of what happened Monday night shows the officer and Turner engaged in a struggle after he tried to arrest her. In the video, 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 scuffle with the officer, saying “Why? Why?” and then “I’m pregnant.”
Investigators are trying to contact whoever recorded the video, because the person was a witness to the shooting, the lieutenant said.
“It’s a tragic event for everybody involved,” Dorris said. “Of course, our hearts go out to the family of the deceased as well as our officer.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Turner’s neighbors gathered not far from an orange ring painted on the apartment complex parking lot to mark where she was shot. Standing amid the modest brick and aluminum homes, one of Turner’s neighbors said the incident frightened her.
“It’s just sad — very sad — when you see somebody for the past six months walking around,” Jennifer Sims said. “Even though you don’t talk to them, you keep an eye on them, you know. And then you wake up and realize, ‘Oh, my God. She was shot so close to home.’ That’s scary, and very sad.”
Baytown, a city of more than 75,000 people, is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston. Its population is 35 percent white, 46 percent Hispanic and 16 percent black, according to the US Census Bureau.
Outside the city’s police station Tuesday, about a dozen protesters gathered carrying signs with “No Justice. No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter” written on them.
“This is another black woman who has lost her life,” said Ashton P. Woods, an activist with Black Lives Matter Houston. “Another black person who has lost their life, for senseless violence. Five shots. Unarmed.”
Kevin Davis, a police detective and the author of a book on investigating police use of force, said it is impossible to make a proper assessment of Turner’s shooting based only on the video and facts released so far.
Davis, who is not connected to the case, said the smartphone videos that have become common in police shootings can lead people to rush to judgment. “We owe it to everyone involved, including the decedent, to do a professional investigation,” he said.
 


UN: Possible to eradicate malaria, but probably not soon

Updated 22 min 28 sec ago

UN: Possible to eradicate malaria, but probably not soon

  • Dr. Pedro Alonso, the UN health agency’s global malaria director, said WHO is “unequivocally in favor” of eradication
  • An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later

LONDON: The World Health Organization says it’s theoretically possible to wipe out malaria, but probably not with the flawed vaccine and other control methods being used at the moment.
Dr. Pedro Alonso, the UN health agency’s global malaria director, said WHO is “unequivocally in favor” of eradication, but that major questions about its feasibility remain. In a press briefing on Thursday, Alonso acknowledged that “with the tools we have today, it is most unlikely eradication will be achieved.”
Alonso was presenting the results of a WHO-commissioned report evaluating if eradicating malaria should be pursued. He said the experts concluded lingering uncertainties meant they were unable to formulate a clear strategy and thus, couldn’t propose a definitive timeline or cost estimate for eradication.
WHO has long grappled with the idea of erasing malaria from the planet. An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later. For decades, health officials were chastened from even discussing eradication — until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation threw its considerable resources behind the idea.
Smallpox is the only human disease to ever have been eradicated. In 1988, WHO and partners began a global campaign that aimed to wipe out polio by 2000. Despite numerous effective vaccines and billions of invested dollars, efforts have stalled in recent years and officials have repeatedly missed eradication targets.
Although several African countries began immunizing children against malaria in national programs this year, the shot only protects about one third of children who get it. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.
“An effective vaccine is something we desperately need if we’re ever going to get malaria under control and we just don’t have it,” said Alister Lister, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Lister also raised concerns about whether malaria programs would be able to raise the billions needed given other competing eradication campaigns, like those for polio, guinea worm and lymphatic filariasis.
“Should we really be pushing for malaria or should we concentrate on getting some of those other diseases out of the way first?” he asked.
Other experts agreed that eradicating malaria in the coming years seems aspirational.
“It’s a long game and there will be many bumps on the road,” said Sian Clarke, co-director of the malaria center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Still, Clarke said that eradication might only be achieved if there is a sense of urgency, given how malaria spreads; the parasitic disease is transmitted to people by mosquitoes.
“The longer it takes, the more opportunity there is for the parasite to evolve,” she said. “There will be a lot of pressure on the parasite to evolve a mechanism of survival, so this is something that if it’s to be done, should be done relatively quickly.”