Police identify local officer involved in deadly shooting

The incident occurred on Dec. 2 in the area of a CEFCO store and a Tractor Supply store. (Photo by Megan Vanselow)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Temple police Tuesday identified the officer involved in a deadly shooting on Dec. 3 as nine-year department veteran Carmen DeCruz.

He remains on paid leave.

DeCruz shot and killed Michael Dean, 28, at around 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the area of Southeast H K Dodgen Loop and Little River Road on the south side of the city.

The officer has been in the news before.

DeCruz was injured and was taken to a local hospital in July 2014 when his patrol car was struck and caught fire as he assisted another officer in a vehicle pursuit following a burglary at the S&C Convenience Store at 1304 South 31st St.

DeCruz was also one of the defendants in a lawsuit filed in January 2017 after a boy who authorities said was fleeing along with two other suspects following an armed home invasion and attempted robbery in January 2015 ended up pinned beneath a patrol car driven by a second officer, suffering burns.

A federal judge granted the city’s motion for summary judgement and dismissed the suit in October 2018.

Texas Rangers are investigating the deadly shooting.

No further details about the shooting or what led to it have been released.

"We understand the desire from our residents and media partners to know more about the circumstances behind this officer involved shooting, police Sgt. Bryan Washko said last week.

"However, the Texas Rangers are the leading agency in this investigation, and thus have given direction to the Temple Police Department not to release any further details," he said.

Members of Dean’s family, however, are demanding answers.

They and attorney Lee Merritt held a press conference last Friday outside the Bell County Justice Center.

Merritt has represented families in high-profile cases including the fatal shooting of Dallas resident Botham Jean by now former Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger and the 2017 fatal officer-involved shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs.

Merritt alleges Dean was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

“We had an individual who was shot one time in the head, that doesn’t imply a scuffle that implies an execution. I don’t want to speculate…this family doesn’t want to speculate," Merritt said.

"But without more information, what do we have left to do?”

Hours later last Friday, interim Temple police Chief Jim Tobin had a brief news conference in which he said he is hoping the community will have patience during the investigation.

He met with the family earlier Friday.

“I understand the family has concern and questions as does the community. It is my goal to answer those questions thoroughly and accurately following the completion of these investigations,” Tobin said.

Tobin says the department will also conduct an internal investigation after the Texas Rangers’ investigation.

“The procedures used by the department are designed to protect the integrity of both investigations,” he said.

(Megan Vanselow contributed to this story)