TEMPLE, TX (KWTX) — The trial of Carmen DeCruz began on Monday after several delays.
The prosecution questioned 86 potential jurors on the first day of the trial, but no jurors have yet been chosen. Twelve of them will eventually be chosen to decide the fate of DeCruz, a former Temple police officer.
DeCruz has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for the death of 28-year-old Michael Dean, an unarmed black man. On December 2, 2019, Dean was shot after a car chase after failing to stop for speeding.
According to the arrest statement, when Dean stopped, the former police officer approached the car with a pistol at the ready. As DeCruz reached out to grab the keys, he pulled the trigger, killing Dean.
On Monday, the prosecution asked a panel of potential jurors about their experience with guns, any relationship they have with law enforcement, and whether law enforcement must meet the same standards as citizens.
This diverse pool of potential jurors includes men, women, young, old, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. Two of those potential jurors have already been exempted from consideration, saying they won’t have childcare until the end of the week.
A small group of friends and supporters of the victim in this case were present at the beginning of the jury selection process. Among them was Patrick Aryn, who went to high school with Dean.
“This is unacceptable,” Aryn said. “This should never happen again.”
Aryn said he was happy that DeCruz was no longer with the Temple Police Department, but said it wasn’t enough.
“I hope that as a result he gets a prison term, as many years as possible,” he said.
Dean’s murder sparked peaceful protests at the Temple in 2020. Dean’s former classmate said he plans to invite the same friends and activists he protested with to join him in court once the lawsuit moves forward.
“I wanted to wait until I had a feel for when the jury would be chosen before posting on social media,” Aryn said.
As soon as he publishes this post, he expects a strong result later this week.
“Temple City, once this test begins, if we have to wait outside, we will,” Aryn said. “This should never happen again.”
On Tuesday, the defense will question a group of potential jurors. Judge Paul LePac said he expects a trial by Monday or Tuesday next week.
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