Three years after Temple officer killed Michael Dean, community members continue advocating for change

Michael Dean was unarmed when he was shot and killed by former officer Carmen DeCruz
Michael Dean was unarmed when he was shot and killed by former Temple officer Carmen DeCruz.
Michael Dean was unarmed when he was shot and killed by former Temple officer Carmen DeCruz.(KWTX)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 5:03 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Three years ago today, on December 2, 2019, an unarmed Temple man, Michael Dean, was shot and killed by a police officer for allegedly speeding.

Dean, a father of three, had just picked up a birthday cake for his daughter, and it sat in the passenger seat.

“Here in Temple, there is a huge issue with police brutality, and it’s been an issue,” Patrick Arryn, a former classmate of Dean’s and community advocate, told KWTX. “He was a good person, just trying to pay the bills, just trying to take care of his daughter.”

The father of three was caught in a car chase with Temple police after not pulling over for allegedly speeding.

According to the arrest affidavit, when Dean eventually stopped, the now former officer Carmen DeCruz approached his car with a gun already drawn.

As DeCruz reached into Dean’s car to grab the keys, he pulled the trigger, killing him with a bullet to the head.

When asked for comment, DeCruz‘s attorney declined to be interviewed. He did provide a statement, however, which included that “Mr. Dean refused to comply with officer DeCruz.” He also said that Dean’s criminal choices led to the “accidental discharge of DeCruz’s firearm.”

The case has since garnered national attention, prompting protests against racially charged police brutality and demands for change across Central Texas.

But three years later, Arryn and other critics say that change hasn’t come.

Despite DeCruz being arrested and charged with manslaughter back in 2020, the ex-police officer went on to serve just one month in jail before being released after his bond dropped from half a million dollars to $80,000.

“Carmen DeCruz had an $80,000 bond for murdering an unarmed Black man on his daughter’s birthday,” Arryn said. “I’ve seen bonds be way over $80,000 for nonviolent crimes.”

DeCruz‘s trial has yet to occur, having been rescheduled numerous times. It was recently announced to take place in early January of 2023.

Until then, Arryn and other community advocates continue to speak out.

“They can use COVID as an excuse,” Arryn said. “But eventually, and I hope it’s during this trial, that the whole truth and the video of this murder gets released, so we can find out how corrupt our city was, and had been. Hopefully we can prevent and get people out of office that will no longer allow something like this to happen again.”