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Family says no progress made one year after Temple officer kills Michael Dean

NAACP and the Central Texas community rallied behind Michael Dean's family.
NAACP and the Central Texas community rallied behind Michael Dean's family.(KWTX)
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 10:02 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas — Wednesday marks one year since 28-year-old Michael Dean was shot in the head and killed by Temple Police Officer Carmen DeCruz. The family says within the last year, much has not been done to getting justice for Dean or in reforming the Temple Police Department.

“Things need to be changed, " said Tosheena Dean, Michael Dean’s sister. “And unfortunately our family was the learning curve for the city but that’s what it should be-- something that they should learn from so they can start doing things differently and within a year we haven’t seen that,” she said.

Temple police officers attempted to pull Michael Dean over for allegedly speeding on Dec. 2. According to an arrest affidavit, Dean did not stop so the officers initiated a car chase.

Dean finally stopped at the intersection of Little River Road and Loop 363 in Temple. DeCruz pulled around Deans car to block it and got out of his patrol car. The affidavit claims Decrus approached Dean’s car with his gun already drawn.

DeCruz then went to the passenger side of the car and ordered Dean to give him his keys. The affidavit claims DeCruz attempted to pull the keys while his other hand was on the trigger of the gun. The affidavit says when DeCruz reached to grab the keys, his finger on the trigger also pulled back, firing a bullet into Dean’s head.

Dean, a father of three, died at the scene. He was found to be unarmed. According to his family’s attorney Lee Merritt he had just come from picking up a birthday cake for his daughter when the shooting happened.

Eight days after the shooting, on Dec. 10, Temple police identified Carmen DeCruz as the officer who shot Dean. He was put on administrative leave.

In February he was arrested and charged with manslaughter and later resigned from the police department.

DeCruz was indicted in March and spent about a month in jail. He was later released in March after his bond was lowered from half a million dollars to $80,000.

" It was a menial percentage of what he was held on,” said DeShaundra Dean, a sister of Michael Dean. “A life was taken. It doesn’t matter if you did it accidentally or not.”

The Dean family’s attorney Lee Merritt, who has gone on to represent other families in high profile police brutality cases, released a statement on the anniversary of Dean’s death.

“Michael Dean should be celebrating his daughter’s 7th birthday today. Instead, he was shot at point blank range in the head a year ago on the side of the road in Temple, Texas. He was unarmed and nonviolent. The legal apparatus within the city and county has failed to display any signs of transparency and continues to withhold body and dash camera footage of Michael’s death. While Michael’s family continues to grieve, Carmen DeCruz was given a reduced bail amount and can spend his holidays home with his family, a luxury that can never be enjoyed by Michael Dean’s family ever again. On the anniversary of his death, this family renews their calls for transparency and swiftness in prosecuting Michael’s killer.”

Since the shooting, the family, the attorney and the Temple NAACP have been calling for the release of the body camera and dash camera video showing the incidents. The city has refused to release it claiming it’s “in an effort to protect witnesses that can be seen in the footage.”

The family also said they are frustrated with a lack of change at Temple Police Department since their brother’s death.

“There’s been no information as far as them doing additional training so you don’t have incidents with officers who take matters into their own hands and end up where we are now-- talking to you with our brother in the ground behind us,” said Tosheena Dean.

A pre-trial hearing for ex-officer DeCruz is scheduled for January 15, 2021.

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