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Michael Dean's family calls for murder charges after officer arrested for his death

Carmen DeCruz
Posted at 5:58 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 12:18:50-05

Attorney Lee Merritt and Interim Temple Police Chief Jim Tobin spoke out about the arrest of police officer Carmen DeCruz and about what is expected next in this case.

After months of quiet and confusion, an arrest finally happened in the Michael Dean case.

Dean was shot during a traffic stop by Temple Police Officer Carmen DeCruz early December 2019. DeCruz faces manslaughter charges.

"What manslaughter says under the Texas penal code is that there was no intent to cause harm or death. Obviously when you take a firearm and shoot someone in the head there is a serious intent to cause bodily harm,” Dean family attorney, Lee Merritt said.

Merritt says his clients are asking the Bell County District Attorney to up the charges to murder.

"The DA has every right and responsibility to file the appropriate charges even if it goes against the recommendation of the Texas Rangers Office," Merritt said.

If the DA does not change the charge, Merritt says they have a plan ready to set in motion.

“We will contact the Department of Justice to come and look at this case. It is not okay to kill black men in the side of the road and charge officers with the bare minimum," Merritt said.

The Temple Police Department says they are still waiting for the final report from the Texas Rangers and intend to have the internal investigation completed by the end of February.

"These investigations are sometimes timely, and it is important to make sure we have an accurate investigation based on the facts and evidence,” Chief Jim Tobin said.

It’s an investigation that has taken longer than two months.

"This is the most obscure and secretive investigation I have ever been a part of in my career,” Merritt said.

Chief Tobin says the department is planning to do an "After Action Review" once the investigation is complete.

"We will look at how we perform as an agency during and after the incident and look at where we can improve,” Tobin said.

When asked what kind of officer DeCruz is, Tobin said he's never had any prior problems with DeCruz. DeCruz worked with the Temple Police Department for 9 years.

"This has been a really good officer, 2.5 hours before this incident he was a part of the honor guard leading a parade in Temple," Tobin said.

Officer DeCruz remains on paid administrative leave until a decision is made in his legal case. A grand jury will decide if he should be indicted on manslaughter charges.