Trial begins for former Temple Police officer charged in Michael Dean’s death

Carmen DeCruz (left) and Michael Dean (right)
Carmen DeCruz (left) and Michael Dean (right)(KWTX)
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 7:09 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Monday marked the start of the Carmen DeCruz trial after several delays.

The prosecution questioned 86 potential jurors in day one of the trial, but no jury has been selected just yet. Twelve of them will ultimately be chosen to decide the fate of DeCruz, a former Temple Police officer.

DeCruz is charged with second degree manslaughter for the death of 28-year-old Michael Dean, an unarmed Black man. On Dec. 2 2019 Dean was shot and killed following a car chase after not pulling over for speeding.

According to the arrest affidavit, when Dean did stop the former police officer approached the car with his gun drawn. When DeCruz reached in to grab the keys, he pulled the trigger, killing Dean.

On Monday the prosecution asked the group of potential jurors about their experience with guns, any relationships they have to law enforcement and whether law enforcement should be held to the same standards as citizens.

This diverse group of potential jurors include men, women, young, old, Black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Two of those potential jurors were already exempt from consideration saying they didn’t have child care for the rest of the week.

A small group of friends and supporters of the victim in this case attended the start of the jury selection process. Among them was Patrick Aryn who went to high school with Dean.

“This is unacceptable,” Aryn said. “This does not need to ever happen again.”

Aryn said he’s happy that DeCruz is no longer employed with the Temple Police Department, but said that’s not enough.

“I’m hoping the outcome is that he gets prison time, as many years as possible,” he said.

The killing of Dean sparked peaceful protests across Temple in 2020. Dean’s former classmate said he’s planning to invite those same friends and activists he protested with to join him in court once the trial gets further along.

“I wanted to wait until I got a feel for when the jury was going to be selected before I post on social media,” Aryn said.

Once he makes that post, he expects a strong showing later in the week.

“City of Temple once this trial starts, if we have to wait outside, that’s what we’ll do,” Aryn said. “This never has to happen again.”

On Tuesday the defense team will question the group of potential jurors. Judge Paul LePak said he expects the trial to last until Monday or Tuesday of next week.