An Indianapolis police officer who shot and killed Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, 21, in May after a loud pursuit, was not charged by a grand jury, officials said.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Dejoure Mercer killed Reed on May 6 as he chased after him on foot after a car chase over the 21-year-old’s allegedly reckless driving. The decision not to charge him comes nearly three months after a special prosecutor called a grand jury to consider the investigation into Reed’s case, which prompted hundreds of residents to demonstrate outside the headquarters of the police.
At a Tuesday press conference announcing the charges, Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury broke down in tears as she described the 21-year-old’s case, saying the grand jury had not found enough “evidence to charge or accuse ”Mercer.
“It has not been an easy task,” Khoury said, choking as he described the investigation.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said on Tuesday that the decision to charge Mercer had “not been taken lightly.” “Please, please understand that our role is in objective fact finding. We did not choose sides and we will never choose sides.
The shooting took place just weeks before George Floyd died while in custody, galvanizing national protests against police brutality. In anticipation of possible unrest in Indianapolis over the grand jury decision, several businesses in the state capital have closed their windows and removed exterior furniture. According to Fox 59, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also canceled days off and put officers on 12-hour shifts to deal with the unrest.
Authorities said the incident began around 6 p.m. on May 6, when officers began chasing after Reed, who they said was driving recklessly. After getting out of the car, Mercer chased him on foot before shots were “traded” at around 6:14 pm Police did not say who fired first.
Part of the chase and the deadly shootout was captured on Reed’s Facebook Live – and at least 13 or 14 shots can be heard in the footage. The Facebook video begins with Reed filming himself in the middle of the car chase with the police, and he appears to pull over and stop his car. Authorities say Reed ignored “officers’ verbal orders to stop” and fled the car, prompting an officer to pursue him on foot.
“I’m 62nd and Michigan,” Reed says in the video, just before getting out of the car. “I just parked … I left.”
The deputy chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Chris Bailey, told a press conference in May that Mercer first used his taser, but it is not known if it worked. The Taser cannot be seen on the alleged scene video.
“It is believed at this point that shots were fired by both the officer and the suspect,” Bailey said.
In Facebook Live, Reed starts screaming before collapsing to the ground. About eight seconds later, 11 or 12 shots follow in quick succession. The live stream does not show Reed talking about a gun or firing a gun.
When the gunfire ended, more than 4,000 people had logged in to watch the live broadcast. Bailey said Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after and pronounced the driver dead at the scene. The officer was not injured.
In another video obtained by the Indianapolis Star, a detective who arrived after the shooting can be heard saying, “Looks like it’s gonna be a closed casket, mate.” The detective, who was later identified as IMPD agent Steven Scott, a 15-year veteran, has been suspended by the ministry and reassigned.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor said in May that a “loaded gun” was found at the scene. The gun, he said, appeared to have been fired twice and belonged to Reed. An attorney for Reed’s family has previously acknowledged that while Reed may have had a gun at the time of the shooting, it was obtained legally.
In June, Reed’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis and the IMPD, claiming that police used excessive force that resulted in the 21-year-old’s “wrongful death”. The lawsuit contends that Reed did not shoot the IMPD officers and that the police shot him immediately after deploying the Taser.
“This is not true. We will fight for him. I swear to God that it is not fair,” Jamie Reed, his father, said at a press conference after the death of his son. “We have to fight for this. We don’t need to let it fade. We all have to fight.”
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