Two police officials, including a Texas officer and a former Chicago officer, were charged in the killing of unarmed civilians in two separate cases on Monday, according to reports.
Temple Police officer Carmen DeCruz was charged with a second-degree felony for shooting dead Michael Dean on December 2, 2019, according to a statement by the Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza. DeCruz, who was put on paid administrative leave after the shooting, if convicted, could face two-to 20 years in prison. His bail was set at $500,000.
According to a police report dated December 30, DeCruz tried to stop Dean's PT Cruiser on the day of the incident and had "an altercation of some sort between". Investigation revealed DeCruz allegedly pointed a gun at Dean and was trying to reach for Dean's keys. After DeCruz pulled back, his finger allegedly squeezed the trigger, and a bullet struck Dean's head. While first aid was administrated by responding officers, Dean was dead before paramedics arrived.
The charge has been contested as inadequate by the attorney representing Dean's family, S. Lee Merritt. "Michael Dean was shot in the temple through a closed-door seconds after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation," Merritt said in a statement. "We are demanding that the appropriate charges be pursued," he added.
Ex-Chicago cop gets 10 years in prison
In a separate proceeding, a former Chicago police officer was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for fatally shooting an unarmed man in 2017.
Lowell Houser, 60, was sentenced by Cook County Judge William Gamboney on charges that carry a probation sentence or a maximum term of 20 years. He is expected to be released from custody after two years, according to reports.
During the trial in October last year, prosecutors said Houser shot Jose Nieves, 38, during an argument outside the apartment complex where the victim lived in 2017. However, Houser, who is a 28-year police veteran on medical leave for cancer treatment at the time of the shooting, said he acted in self-defense because of Nieves' aggressive move.
Houser apologized to Nieves' family on the day of the sentencing, "I sincerely send my condolences to the Nieves family," he said. "Many times, I went over in my mind if there was something I could have done to prevent this, but, unfortunately, I can only look at this in hindsight."