TEMPLE, TX — The family of Michael Dean and their attorney, Lee Merritt, have the same questions surrounding what happened a year ago as they do today.
Merritt has been very vocal about his disapproval regarding the handling of Dean's case, though we haven't heard much from representatives of the former Temple officer, Carmen DeCruz.
Despite the date being moved before, as of right now a pretrial hearing scheduled for January 15 of next year, but that is subject to change due to coronavirus concerns.
Earlier this year DeCruz was indicted on a manslaughter charge, and later posted bail once his bond was reduced to $80,000. That manslaughter charge is not sitting well with the Dean family and their attorney, who says this is one of the worst case of police brutality he has ever seen.
From the top down, Merritt says there were flaws with the investigation from the very beginning. He says the charge of manslaughter is an insult to the family.
“The manslaughter charge was totally inappropriate. The handling of this case by the prosecutors and the courts, in my opinion, has been atrocious. They have treated Michael Dean’s murder as if it was not a significant event,” Merritt said.
But Robert McCabe, attorney for DeCruz, says in statement released to 25 News that:
“It has been our position since day one that the death of Mr. Dean was a tragic accident that may belong in a civil court of law rather than a case of criminal recklessness or criminal negligence that warrants any criminal charge against Mr. Decruz...”
Only a snippet of the dash camera video has been released, showing DeCruz’s vehicle driving around before the incident. None of the video, according to Merritt, provide any context to what happened.
“What they were discussing about whether or not to release this video, it has nothing to do with justice, procedural justice, or even accountability. We haven’t asked at the video be released publicly. We ask that the evidence be turned over to the family as they prepare their civil and federal suit," he said.
Merritt and the Dean family still have questions but McCabe concluded his statement and said:
"...We believe that a Bell County jury will agree with our position after hearing all of the evidence in the case.”
Merritt says he plans on prosecuting all parties involved to the fullest extent of the law.
“The State of Texas and the City of Temple has this one opportunity. Bell County has this one opportunity to get it right, but there will be oversight and Additional review,” he added.
Merritt says a civil suit is pending, but they will not move forward until there is criminal accountability. He also said he is still disturbed that Temple PD admitted to the partial cleaning of the Dean’s vehicle.
Merritt believes this is tampering with evidence that was critical to piecing together what actually happened, but despite the questions and uncertainty, Merritt says the family is doing their best to maintain their fighting spirit and will continue push for the release of the full video.
The Dean family met with President Trump and his administration earlier this year regarding Dean's case and police brutality in our country. Merritt is pushing for the Dean family to meet with the President-elect Joe Biden within the first 100 days to keep the momentum behind this case going.