DeCruz Trial: Former DA examines jury’s not guilty verdict, ongoing legal fight over body camera footage

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:53 PM CST
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - The fatal shooting of Michael Dean, an unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop in 2019, sparked national attention with thousands voicing their opinion on the altercation that led to the arrest of the officer involved in the traffic stop.

Three years later, only 12 opinions mattered, and ultimately, members of the jury found former Temple Police Department officer Carmen DeCruz not guilty.

It’s not what the Dean family wanted to hear after spending each day inside the court room.

“Each of us has our own world view. Our own way of looking at things. That’s why the same two-three people can see the exact same set of facts, but interpret them differently,” said former McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell when discussing the jury in this case.

The 12 members of the jury identified as a Black man, a biracial woman, and 10 people considered White or other races.

After examining a copious amount of evidence, the jury made their decision in under two hours.

One of the biggest pieces of evidence was the body cam worn by DeCruz.

“What happens on the streets with our citizens, especially when an unarmed man has been shot, that needs to be public,” said Feazell regarding the body camera footage that was never released to the public.

The Temple Police Department released a statement on Tuesday, mentioning the footage.

“Although a not guilty verdict was reached, the criminal matters will not be finally adjudicated until all appeals have been exhausted,” the statement read.

Although the city is claiming to release the body cam video after the civil lawsuit is wrapped, KWTX is actively working to obtain the footage.

“I understand that’s why they’d want to withhold it, but in the long run, that’s not going to make it. They’re going to have to divulge that footage,” said Feazell.

In a recorded statement, Temple’s chief of police asked for “togetherness” within the community, wishing to move forward and learn from these events.

“It is our desire as a community to move forward together and identify areas of improvement. Members of the temple police department look forward to working together with community members to learn, listen, discuss and stand as one,” said City of Temple Chief of Police Shawn Reynolds.

KWTX has attempted to contact Lee Merritt, the dean’s family attorney, but have not heard back since the verdict was announced.