‘Our silence is violence’: Protesters demand action in the wake of DeCruz acquittal

Supporters of the Dean Family gathered in Temple Thursday, Feb. 9, to voice their displeasure...
Supporters of the Dean Family gathered in Temple Thursday, Feb. 9, to voice their displeasure at the acquittal of the former police officer charged in the death of Michael Dean.(Megan Boyd for KWTX)
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 6:52 PM CST
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - A group of protesters Thursday night demanded action and justice after Carmen DeCruz, the former Temple police officer charged in the shooting death of Michael Dean during a traffic stop in 2019, was acquitted by a jury.

“12 people decided that Michael Dean’s life didn’t matter because 12 people decided that Carmen DeCruz did no wrong despite the evidence, despite the truth,” said an activist.

A speaker criticized the chief of police and the mayor for reportedly failing to address the Black community after DeCruz was found not guilty. “The chief of police didn’t speak to the culture of those policies being followed. He did not come out to say as a new chief ‘I will not allow my officers to break policy.’ He didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry that there are so many in my community that don’t feel safe.’”

Protesters urged the community to attend city council meetings and engage their community leaders.

“Our silence is violence,” a speaker said, “Our silence is saying, ‘it’s ok for you to kill me.’”

A protester holds up a sign displaying his support for Michael Dean.
A protester holds up a sign displaying his support for Michael Dean.(Josh Bowering for KWTX)

DeCruz was on trial for second degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of the 28-year-old Dean, an unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop on Dec. 2, 2019. Before the jury deliberations began, the prosecution asked jurors to consider the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. In the end, the jury found DeCruz not guilty on all charges.

The City of Temple released statements from the Mayor and Chief of Police Tuesday night, following the not guilty verdict.

The city sent its condolences for the Dean family, stating the outcome would not be easy regardless of the verdict. “To the community, we recognize that this trial has been difficult for everyone involved and we hope that we can begin moving forward together,” the City wrote.

Temple Mayor Tim Davis also addressed the community Tuesday night, addressing the community’s concerns and the city’s aim to move forward and improve.

“I know that many of you have felt frustration with the way that the situation was handled and the city’s response to the community, and to all at the time of the shooting,” Davis said.

“We lead the community as fellow citizen volunteers and not professional politicians. As a result of this tragedy, we have learned from one another, engaged in meaningful dialogue and started initiatives to engage the community members from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to help us build meaningful community for everyone going forward.”