By Jeffrey L. Boney, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Police brutality…Will it ever end?
All eyes across the nation have been on the city of Baytown, Texas, ever since an unarmed Black woman, 44-year-old Pamela Turner, was shot to death on video by Baytown Police Officer Juan Delacruz back on May 13, outside of her apartment complex on Garth Rd. in Baytown.
Since the incident, no charges have been filed against the officer, although the killing was squarely caught on video. Nothing has been done about the police killing of Turner since that time, except that Officer Delacruz returned back to work after being on paid leave for three days.
Fast forward a few months later, and another high-profiled incident was also caught on camera, not too far from where Pamela Turner was fatally shot at close range by Officer Delacruz.
Slightly before midnight on the evening of July 6th, an unarmed Black man, Kedrick Crawford, 45, is seen on camera being unsuspectingly and undeservedly assaulted by Baytown Police officers that left him having to be treated at Ben Taub Hospital for significant injuries to his face, chest, right eye, head and hands.
Crawford states that he pulled into a local H-E-B parking lot on Garth Rd. to put an address into his GPS navigation app to get directions on his cell phone. As he was parked, he states that Baytown Police officers pulled up and approached his vehicle. After being confronted and questioned by police after claims that he looked suspicious while sitting in his parked vehicle, Crawford says that he gave police permission to search his vehicle upon their request.
Crawford said he was not worried about giving police the consent to search his vehicle, because he was confident he had done nothing wrong.
In the video, released by the Baytown Police department and obtained from the dash cam video of one of the officers, you can hear Crawford tell the officer that he had insurance and whatever else they needed to verify his identity and legitimacy, to which the officer is heard on camera responding, “And what does that have to do with anything?”
After the officers’ response, Crawford then asks the officer, “So when am I free to go?” to which the officer responds, “Whenever man!”
Crawford then asks a clarifying question to confirm that the officer told him that he was free to go whenever he wanted to, and as he continues to look on in confusion as to why he was stopped, five seconds later, the officer who told him he was free to go, comes up behind him and commands him to “put your hands behind your back.”
Confused and afraid for his life, Crawford asks why he is being asked to put his hands behind his back and why he is being handcuffed, repeatedly asking the officer, “What did I do?”
The officer, seemingly hostile, sternly notifies Crawford not to resist and emphatically makes a threatening statement saying, “I will drop you!”
According to a statement released by the Baytown Police Department, officials described the encounter as justified, proclaiming that Crawford’s “demeanor changes as he becomes increasingly nervous even though officers are being polite and cordial.”
In looking at this disturbing video footage, it is clear that Crawford is visibly confused and extremely unaware of why he is being treated this way by the officers.
Crawford then is seen on the video continuously asking the officers “What is going on?” until out of nowhere the officer is heard screaming out that he is about to use the Taser on him.
In the video, you hear Crawford screaming and emphatically crying out that he was going to get killed, while continuing to profess his innocence, along with a plea to the officers to be told exactly what he did wrong.
One of the most shocking things about the video footage, is when a third party in civilian clothing (blue shirt and blue jeans) is seen on the video appearing to place Crawford in a chokehold while wrestling with him on the ground.
The Baytown Police officers do nothing to stop this individual from physically interacting with Crawford, nor do they identify the person in the video as being a member of law enforcement. To date, that person’s identity has not been publicly disclosed.
After a few minutes of Crawford being tasered and beaten, the officer’s body camera goes dark, where at this point, all you can hear is audio of him continuing to scream and demand answers.
After the incident, Crawford reached out to nationally-recognized civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to take on his case. Crump is already representing the family of Pamela Turner.
Crump, along with Crawford, his family and supporters, and the family of Pamela Turner, held a major press conference in front of the Harris County Civil Courthouse, where they demanded justice for Crawford, Turner and for there to be accountability for what Crump is calling a “pattern of excessive force” by the Baytown Police Department.
“We are here to make this plea and this demand, that this pattern of abuse by the Baytown Police Department on minorities must cease immediately,” said Crump. “Baytown, you cannot continue to attack American citizens just because of the color of their skin.”
According to a released statement by the Baytown Police Department, they state that, “at one point the officer searching the vehicle locates several small pieces of plastic bag, each of which contained several pills. Recognizing this to be consistent with narcotics packaged for sale, officers attempted to place Mr. Crawford in handcuffs at which time Mr. Crawford began resisting by pulling away from the officer.”
Crawford states that the items found in his car were actually antibiotics prescribed to him and not drugs for sale. Crump states that Baytown Police Department has not provided any proof of their claims to justify the instantaneous ramped up attack on Crawford.
“Remember, he (Crawford) committed no crime,” said Crump. “So the question is, how can you justify doing him (Crawford) like this after you just told him that he was free to go? It is unjustifiable and they (Baytown Police Department) haven’t offered anything to justify that because they cannot.”
The Baytown Police Department acknowledged the physical claims brought forth by Crawford in their released statement, saying that “due to Mr. Crawford’s persistent resistance, and the fact that the Taser failed to momentarily incapacitate Mr. Crawford, one of the officers delivered a series of elbow strikes and a closed fist strikes to Mr. Crawford’s head area in an attempt to disorient him so they could get him into custody.”
Crump says that the assault on Crawford was unnecessary and plans to exhaust all measures to get down to the bottom of how the assault transpired and what led to that action in the first place.
“We are going to analyze the video, once we hopefully get all the video, and allow our experts to look at every angle of it,” said Crump. “Once we finish our review, we hope that we don’t see police doing inappropriate maneuvers, as I have seen in other cases around America, where they try to create a scenario to seem like a person is resisting when they are not resisting.”
The daughter and sister of Pamela Turner called on Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg to do something about the killing of their loved one and get involved before more things happen as a result of the actions of Baytown Police Department officers.
“This is what happens when you stall District Attorney Ogg. When you push it to the side and sweep things under the rug, you keep getting instances like this,” said Chelsie Ruben, daughter of Pamela Turner. “The brutality keeps going on. It happens over and over, and it will keep happening until you do your job and do what you say you’re going to do. Thank God it’s not as worse as what happened to my mom.”
“I’m asking you to do your job Attorney Kim Ogg,” said Antoinette Dorsey-James, Turner’s sister. “When we met with you D.A. Ogg, you told me that there will be an investigation and to be calm and to take one step at a time. How long does an investigation take? It is clearly on the video, that my sister’s life was wrongfully killed and her life was taken away from her. My sister’s blood is already on Officer Delacruz’s hands. Don’t let it be on yours too.”
Crawford was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, to which the Harris County District Attorney’s Office ironically has chosen to accept those charges.
The Baytown Police Department says its Internal Affairs Division is still investigating the incident.
All in all, Crawford states that he is just happy to be alive after seeing many other incidents like his end up with the loss of life, but remains focused on continuing his quest for justice due to the assault committed against him by the Baytown Police officers.
“First of all, I am grateful to God that I’m still alive,” said Crawford. “I was, and I am, hurting all over my body. My chest is bruised. My ribs hurt. My face was all messed up. All you have to do is watch the video to see what happened to me. I just don’t know why they did this to me.”
Both Crump and Crawford are calling on the federal government to look into this matter.
Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst and frequent contributor for the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur and business development strategist. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.