BELTON, Texas — Former Temple Police officer, Carmen DeCruz, was found not guilty of all charges in the 2019 shooting death of Michael Dean.
DeCruz was charged with second-degree manslaughter over Dean's death, which happened on Dec. 2, 2019 during a traffic stop.
According to an arrest affidavit, DeCruz had his finger on the trigger of his gun when he reached into Dean's car from the passenger side to take the keys out of the ignition that day. As DeCruz pulled back on the keys, his finger also pulled the trigger, which resulted in Dean being shot in the head -- an action that Robert McCabe, DeCruz's defense lawyer, argued was Dean's fault.
In the defense attorney's opening statement, he argued that Dean struck DeCruz's gun with his own hands. This then made the gun discharge, resulting in his death, McCabe said.
"The truth is Michael Dean caused his own death in this case," McCabe said shortly after the verdict came down. "It should've never happened, but the fact is that drunk people make bad choices and touching an officer's gun, causing it to be discharged is not a crime."
(During the trial, according to Dallas County Medical Examiner Dr. Elizabeth Ventura said Dean had a blood alcohol level of .2, which is double the legal limit, at the time he was pulled over.)
As the verdict came down, one of Dean's family members screamed "why, why" in court, according to 6 News reporter Adriana Alexander who was in the courtroom since Day 1 of the trial. She said the verdict created a very "tense" atmosphere.
6 News tried to ask Dean's sister for comment, but she refused. There was no other comment made by Dean's family or prosecutors by the time this article was published.
McCabe said he believes what shifted the jury to the defense's side was the video analysis by a forensic analyst.
The analyst looked at body camera and dash camera footage of the shooting frame-by-frame in court. The analyst said that no footage showed DeCruz's finger on the trigger.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, had a DNA specialist on the stand who analyzed the gun that was used during the shooting. The specialist said none of Dean's DNA was found on the firearm.
"I think it was the video analysis that we had to bring that Michael Dean caused his own demise, not Carmen DeCruz's reckless act," he said. "...They see the video, they see it analyzed, they see all the evidence objectively with fresh eyes without being swayed by what the DA's office wants to tell, which is a fiction," he said.
A civil lawsuit is now being filed by the Dean family. DeCruz does not plan to go back into law enforcement, McCabe said.
This is a breaking story. Stay with 6 News as this story develops.