Family and friends react to ex-cop found not guilty of second degree murder charge

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 10:43 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Family and friends of the late Michael Dean are still wrapping their heads around the verdict in the trial of former Temple police officer Carmen DeCruz.

Dean’s loved ones say they are heartbroken after a jury found the former temple police officer, Carmen DeCruz, not guilty of second degree manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of Dean during a traffic stop.

“I’m disgusted, I’m hurt. I could have been Michael Dean, anyone could have been Michael Dean,” said former classmate Patrick Arryn.

Officials said Dean, who was unarmed, may have reached for officer DeCruz’s gun during a 2019 traffic stop, while DeCruz reached for Dean’s car keys. They said DeCruz then shot Dean, ending his life.

“It’s a tragic accident, it should have never happened. but the fact is drunk people make and choices. Touching an officer’s gun, causing it to be discharged is not a crime. It’s a poor choice you make,” said DeCruz’s lead attorney, Robert McCabe.

However, Arryn said he saw DeCruz’s bodycam footage during the trial and says there’s a different story.

“Michael Dean’s hands were up, he never touched the gun. there was no DNA of Michael Dean on the gun and this man walks free not guilty,” said Arryn. “If I shoot a cop, and say it was an ‘accident,’ I’d have a million-dollar bond, if there would be a bond.”

McCabe said he believes in the justice system and is proud to fight for DeCruz’s freedom.

“We have a jury of peers, we have a full jury selection process, we have transparency. We have the best system in the world and it worked today,” said McCabe.

As for Dean’s family and friends, they struggle to find the right words they would say to Dean today.

“I’m sorry, and I did my best,” said Arryn.

McCabe says DeCruz will not pursue law enforcement in the future.

He said the next step is fighting the civil suit the Dean family filed against DeCruz.