Attorneys for the family of a 21-year-old black man who was shot dead by an Indianapolis police officer in May have found the investigation to be inadequate
November 14, 2020, 10:10 p.m.
4 min read
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INDIANAPOLIS – Attorneys for the family of a 21-year-old black man who was shot and killed by an Indianapolis police officer in May blew up the investigation against the officer on Saturday.
Dreasjon Reed’s family lawyers claim that at least 10 eyewitnesses saw Officer Dejoure shoot Mercer Reed with his stun gun and then repeatedly with his gun while Reed was writhing on the floor. Contrary to the results of a state police investigation, these witnesses claim Reed did not shoot the officer, the lawyers said.
“Your testimony was consistent – Dreasjon was verbally abused, he fell, he was shot while he was still shaking on the ground. He didn’t shoot back, “attorney Fatima Johnson said during an online press conference on Saturday. She said she was “extremely disgusted” that Mercer would not be charged – at one point she repeated the word “again” 13 times to represent the number of times Mercer had shot Reed.
“Dejoure Mercer didn’t stop shooting until Dreasjon stopped moving, until Dreasjon stopped breathing, until his life was over and he wasn’t here,” said Johnson.
Reed’s shooting on May 6th was not videotaped as the police didn’t start implementing a body camera program until August. But Reed live streamed a previous chase and part of a chase on Facebook.
Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury, tasked with overseeing the investigation into the shooting in June, announced Tuesday that the grand jury had declined to indict Mercer, who was also black. She said the grand jurors determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to indict or accuse Mercer of a crime, but she could not discuss what evidence would be presented as the grand jury’s proceedings were secret.
Swaray Conteh, another attorney for the Reed family, said Saturday that the public should be skeptical of the investigation being conducted by the Indiana State Police.
“It was very flat work and Officer Mercer should have been charged and had the opportunity to prove his innocence in court,” Conteh said.
Indiana State Police spokesman Captain Ron Galaviz defended the agency’s investigation.
“Although we cannot imagine what this family can take, we stand by our objective conclusions,” said Galaviz.
Reed’s mother, Demetree Wynn, filed a lawsuit against the city, its law enforcement agency, and four officers, including Mercer, in June. This lawsuit alleges that the department did not properly train, screen, and supervise officers to prevent them from using excessive or fatal force.
Conteh said Saturday the family would now focus on the lawsuit instead of pushing for a federal civil rights investigation.
Mercer’s attorney, John Kautzman, said he always believed the evidence proved Mercer’s right to defend himself. He said he believes state police have conducted a thorough investigation and that there is strong evidence that Reed fired his pistol during the confrontation. He said the grand jury heard from these eyewitnesses and considered their testimony.
“We believe the grand jury duly assessed all evidence based on whatever information I believe was provided by the state police investigation,” Kautzman said.
Indianapolis police and prosecutors declined to comment.
Days of protests followed Reed’s assassination, and about 50 people briefly blocked some streets in the city on Saturday afternoon as they marched to a district police headquarters.
When Reed was shot, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said officers were chasing him after seeing someone ruthlessly driving on Interstate 65. The regulators ordered the pursuit to end because the vehicle was traveling at a speed of 145 km / h. Mercer later spotted the same car on a city street and chased Reed on foot before the two exchanged shots, according to police.
State Police detective David Herron said Tuesday that evidence verified by the agency showed Reed fired two shots with his pistol and Mercer fired 13 shots, although investigators couldn’t determine who shot first.
That evidence included videos from Reed’s cell phone and surveillance videos from outdoor cameras at a nearby company. The video shows Reed running away from Mercer before falling face first to the floor.
Herron showed stills from the cell phone video which he said showed an orange portion of the butt of the magazine of Reed’s pistol and Reed’s drawing of the weapon. He said that Mercer apparently used a stun gun first, but Reed was not incapacitated by the two electric probes that hit him.