Grand jury indicts Farmers Branch officer for murder

A Dallas County grand jury indicted a Farmers Branch police officer for murder two weeks to the day after he shot and killed a suspect who was driving a stolen truck.

Officer Michael Dunn has already turned himself into Seagoville police. He posted $150,000 bond after being booked in Wednesday night.

According to the indictment, Dunn cannot drink, do drugs, or contact the Moreno family.

He also had to surrender his passport, and can't travel outside Texas without court permission.

Two weeks ago, the Farmers Branch officer shot and killed Juan Moreno Jr. He was monitoring a stolen pickup when the confrontation happened in a Dallas strip mall parking lot.

The shooting was investigated by Dallas PD, who referred a murder charge to the district attorney's office, which in turn led to the indictment.

Dunn told investigators he felt threatened, but surveillance video appears to show Moreno swerving around him in the stolen truck.

The grand jury reviewed that video, along with testimony from investigators, as Moreno’s family waited outside the closed-door proceedings.

Moreno’s father is glad the 43-year-old officer has been indicted by a Dallas County grand jury.

“They did justice,” said Juan Moreno Sr., the father of the victim. “Justice was done like it’s supposed to be, and I’m glad, you know, they did justice.”

“This sends a message that officers do not have the right to kill someone, that officers have to comply with the law,” added Carlos Quintanilla, who is acting as the family’s media liaison.

Dunn has worked for the Farmers Branch Police Department for the past 13 years. He’s also a member of the regional SWAT team and United States Marine Corps. He worked aboard Marine One, serving President George W. Bush and presidential staff.

Farmers Branch Chief David Hale said the 43-year-old officer remains on administrative leave. The department’s internal investigation into his conduct is still ongoing and will conclude as soon as possible after all of the information from the Dallas Police Department’s investigation is submitted.

“Our hearts go out to the Moreno family for their loss. Let us also be reminded that Farmers Branch police officer Mike Dunn’s life has been forever changed. Many families are affected by this event, and we pray that this process will ultimately bring closure to everyone involved,” he said.

Moreno's father wants Dunn off the force.

“I just want him to be out of the police department, cause I don’t think he deserves to be a policeman since he acted the way he acted,” Moreno Sr. said.

Hale said he and the city’s mayor have extended an invitation to meet with the Moreno family but that has not yet happened.

Chief Hale was measured in his comments about the speed of the criminal investigation.

[REPORTER: “This is probably the fastest we’ve ever seen an officer-involved shooting be investigated, to a grand jury, to indictment. Do you think it was too swift?]

“I think that anytime the criminal justice system can move quickly, I think it’s a good thing,” Hale responded. "They had a lot of people working on this, and they are a professional organization, and they do this daily, so I trust that the information that they were able to put together in that amount of time was appropriate to move forward."

Regarding the swift action of the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to bring the case before a grand jury, DA John Creuzot said he made a promise to present officer-involved shooting cases to a grand jury as quickly as possible.

"The intent was to prevent these cases from lingering in the system for six months or longer. We want to either clear officers so they can get back to work, or when a grand jury determines probable cause, proceed with a trial before a jury," Creuzot said.

The DA believes the decision restores confidence in the community that the system can work quickly, fairly and efficiently.

“We thank the Dallas district attorney for expediting the grand jury procedure. We think it’s very unusual that a grand jury will hear a case so quickly,” Quintanilla said.

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata, along with other state police associations, decried the swift criminal investigation of the shooting.

“My biggest concern is how we got here. How did we get to this grand jury?” Mata said. “Last month, we had 40 murders in this city. How many of those have gone to the grand jury? I’ll tell you how many, zero.”

Mata claimed it was political, done to prevent public protests, adding that officers are not afforded the same rights as citizens, and this sets a dangerous precedent.

"This is ready to go to the grand jury in eight days. What message does that send to the officers who are out there risking their lives every day who could be involved in an officer-involved shooting and it might not look good on TV,” Mata said.

Mata also blame DPD command staff, including Chief Renee Hall.

"You have to stay within your policies and parameters. If it gives the shadow of corruption, it gives the shadow that not everyone is treated fairly, and it gives the shadow that once again, the cops are taking care of cops. And let me tell you right now, that is not the case in it,” Mata said.