TEMPLE, TX (KWTX) — On the second day of the Carmen DeCruz trial, the court decided on a jury appointment, the prosecution presented its opening arguments, defense counsel presented evidence and called witnesses.
DeCruz, a former Temple police officer, was charged with the manslaughter of Michael Dean, an unarmed black man, in 2019.
The prosecution showed the jury the first dashcam video of that night. In it, you could see how the former policeman begins to pursue Dean and drives up perpendicular to his car.
DeCruz stepped out of frame as he approached Dean’s car, but a knock could be heard, followed by a gunshot.
The former detective was called to the dock to analyze the video. He said that the Temple Police Department’s harassment policy at the time was “very limited”. He revealed that DeCruz should have blocked Dean’s car only if he was suspected of a felony.
The detective said that in such situations, the former police officer should have called for backup even before he got out of the car.
Before that, the prosecution presented its opening arguments to the jury. The key piece of evidence in this case is video from DeCruz’s body camera, which has not yet been released to the public despite media requests.
The prosecution team said in their opening statement that the footage showed the former police officer yelling profanity after he shot Dean and then tried to give him CPR. They also revealed that the jury would see DeCruz escalate the situation moments before Dean’s death.
Former McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell told KWTX News 10 what these new details could mean for the court.
“I think that means he obviously didn’t want to kill this guy, he didn’t want to do it,” he said. “That’s why he wasn’t charged with murder. The point is whether the actions that led to the situation were reckless.”
The defense team waived their right to make their opening argument to the jury. Feazell said it was rare but not unheard of.
“Whether or not to make an opening statement is entirely up to the lawyer,” he said. “This is at the discretion of the lawyer. Often when you don’t make an opening statement, it’s because you don’t want to be associated with something that you can’t prove later.”
The selected jury consists of 1 black male, 1 mixed-race female, and 12 other people who are white and/or other races. Twelve will be the jurors that will ultimately decide DeCruz’s fate, while the other two will serve as his lieutenants.
Feazell said race does play a role in the potential bias these jurors might have.
“Whether you’re a black juror or an older white guy who’s really good at jury law enforcement, we all hope this gets delayed,” Feazell said. “But we know that’s not always the case.”
DeCruz was in court today with much longer hair than the picture we saw.
Dean’s family showed up when the trial began, but they walked out after the first witness took the stand. The family was seen to become visibly agitated when their lawyer spoke of the night Dean was killed during her opening argument.
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