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Day 4 of Carmen DeCruz Trial: Witness says Temple police failed to include entire statement in initial report

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jan 26, 2023

More witnesses took the stand during Day 4 of the trial for Carmen DeCruz, a former Temple police officer accused of shooting Michael Dean to death in 2019.

Witnesses say they saw the incident unfold and also took pictures and video that night. One witness said Temple police originally left out parts of his written statement.

The witness says he was at the Tractor Supply Store near the intersection of MLK Boulevard in HK Dodgens Loop getting dog food, when he saw the incident unfold. After he heard DeCruz’s gunfire, he ran over to the incident to help.

While on scene, he took a picture of DeCruz giving Michael Dean’s CPR and helped keep people away from the scene. While he was questioned by police at the scene, he heard DeCruz say “My life is [expletive] , my career is [expletive] and I've [expletive] up for my family.” And he dropped to his knees.

The witness also said DeCruz then upholstered his weapon but his commander officer told him to re-holstered his gun. The witness went on to say DeCruz punched a nearby electrical Box out of frustration.

The witness said these parts were taken out of his written statement, even though he told the officers in an investigation room at Temple police headquarters during the night of the shooting.

Lee Merritt, the Dean family’s attorney who’s over their civil rights lawsuit against the city, says this is a major concern.

“My concern is the behavior of the Temple Police Department," Merritt said. "They had those statements and they chose to leave them out of certain documents. The civil suit of the family is pursuing against the city of Temple is concerned about patterns and practices in the rules they."

The police officer who took the citizens statement also testified Thursday. He admits he didn’t take the full witness statement down, but this wasn’t done on purpose or to protect DeCruz. He said their entire interview was recorded and used for the investigation. He also said that written statements are not meant to be a verbatim account. The TPD officer said he also gave the witness his business card and told him to contact him if he remembered anything else or believed something wasn't accurate.

The witness said he was never contacted by TPD and he never reached back out to the department.

The prosecution and defense also questioned a TPD patrol officer who took DeCruz’s gun and handed it in for evidence during the night of the incident.

The TPD patrol officer arrived at the scene after hearing DeCruz call for backup on the radio around 8:30 p.m. during the night of the shooting. When he arrived on scene, he saw Michael Dean’s body and saw DeCruz crying on his knees.
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While he was comforting the former police officer, the TPD patrol officer was instructed to unload his gun and give it to DeCruz and take DeCruz’s weapon away. He said he was instructed to do this because they feared that DeCruz would possibly take his own life. The TPD officer then put the gun in a box in the back of a police cruiser.

A Texas Ranger, who is also the lead investigator, also testified Thursday. He said Texas Rangers generally are the ones that remove firearms from the scene after officer-involved shootings.