TEMPLE, TX — The Temple Police Department is responding to surfacing reports surrounding the death of Michael Dean saying they have "no new information or updates to the reports."
On Wednesday, the Associated Press obtained a report that was filed by the department to the Texas Attorney General's office. Since 2015, Texas law enforcement agencies have been legally required to send the attorney general’s office reports on any shooting in which an officer was hit or shot someone within 30 days.
TPD says the department filed two reports on December 30, 2019. The first report was a three-page Peace Officer Involved Injuries or Death Report and a seven-page Custodial Death Report.
TPD says the Attorney General's office, not TPD, controls the timing of the release of reports submitted to them.
The first report was uploaded to the Attorney General's office website on December 20. TPD says they were unaware when the second report was uploaded onto the website.
Regarding any updates on the case, the department said, "at this time, we have no new information or updates to the reports that have been filed."
The case is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers and the Bell County District Attorney's Office.
Officer DeCruz tried to pull Dean over for speeding on the night of Dec. 2, but the 28-year-old did not stop and “a short pursuit ensued,” states the report city police filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Dean eventually pulled over and DeCruz, 52, approached his PT Cruiser. Then “there was an altercation of some sort between” the men, the report states, and during it the officer’s “service weapon discharged” striking Dean.
The report does not describe the “altercation” further. It’s “unknown” whether Dean attempted to injure the officer or others, according to the report, but the most serious offense he would have been charged is “evading in a vehicle.”
Despite the questions it leaves open, the seven-page document offers some of the only available details on what led up to Dean’s death two months ago. Police in Temple, a city of 76,000 people about 70 miles (112 kilometers) northeast of Austin, have said little about the shooting and consistently referred questions to the Texas Rangers, who are leading the investigation.
Dallas attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Dean’s family, suggested that Dean was looking for a safe place to pull over, not evading the officer, and called the report “disingenuous.”
“When it gets down to the critical juncture they leave out all the important detail, which leaves Mr. DeCruz a great deal of latitude to change his story at some later date,” said Merritt. “This seems to be an attempt to try to justify what is clearly unjustifiable.”