UPDATE: Man Shot, Killed By Texas Police Officer Last Month Did Not Have Weapon
TEMPLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Law enforcement experts say a small Texas police department’s extended silence about an officer fatally shooting a 28-year-old man runs contrary to best practices and creates fertile ground for public mistrust.
Temple Police Officer Carmen DeCruz shot Michael Dean in the head on Dec. 2.
More than two weeks later, the public and the victim’s family still know next to nothing about what led to his death.
Dallas attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Dean’s family, told the Associated Press last week that the silence of the Temple Police Department is “completely unfair and particularly cruel” to the 28-year-old’s family.
“I’ve never, ever, ever, ever seen a case where there was absolutely no narrative, even if it was one that was later proved wrong,” Merritt said. “Our primary concern is criminal accountability for the officer. Our lateral concern is civil responsibility for the department.”
Temple police identified Dean as the victim the day after the shooting and later identified the officer as DeCruz. Police said DeCruz wasn’t injured and — per standard practice — was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The preliminary autopsy report ruled Dean’s death a homicide and said he was shot in the head, the Temple Daily Telegram reported.
The Texas Rangers are assisting in the investigation, but a spokesman said there was no additional information available.
Former New York City Police Department commander Stephen Nasta says this “appears to be a long period without giving more details of that case.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)