INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury has declined to indict an Indianapolis police officer who fatally shot a man in May during a foot chase after police said the 21-year-old exchanged gunfire with the officer.
The grand jury's decision not to indict Dejoure Mercer, the Black officer who shot and killed Dreasjon Reed on May 6, was announced Tuesday by special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury. Reed also was Black.
Reed’s shooting was not recorded by any police camera because the department only began implementing a body camera program in August. But Reed livestreamed an earlier car chase and part of the foot chase on Facebook.
Khoury, who was appointed to oversee the investigation into Reed’s fatal shooting, had announced on Aug. 21 that she had requested that a grand jury be impaneled to handle the final stage of that investigation and consider whether an indictment should be brought against Mercer.
“Fairness. From day one that’s been my goal," Khoury told reporters Tuesday. "No one wins here. I hope that anyone who was a part of this entire process can look at this and feel comfortable that the investigation was done in an impartial manner. That’s exactly what my team and I did over the past five months.”
Indy10 Black Lives Matter gathered several dozen peaceful protestors just north of Monument Circle following the announcement Tuesday evening. The group organized numerous protests in Indianapolis following Reed’s death.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has said Reed was fatally shot by Mercer in an exchange of gunfire with that officer during a foot chase that followed a vehicle pursuit.
Attorneys for Reed’s family have insisted that he didn’t exchange gunfire with Mercer before the officer shot him.
Reed’s mother, Demetree Wynn, filed a wrongful death federal lawsuit in June against the city, its police department and four officers, including Mercer. It alleges the department failed to adequately train, screen and supervise officers, including Mercer, to prevent them from engaging in excessive or deadly force.
Her complaint also names Steven Scott, another Black officer, who was disciplined after he was captured on video after Reed’s shooting saying: “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” an apparent reference to a closed-casket funeral.
A federal judge later removed the city of Indianapolis as a defendant in that lawsuit, citing past court rulings that say city agencies are protected from certain lawsuits.
“I don’t know how Mr. Reed’s mother feels, but I’m a mother of two Black boys,” Khoury said to a reporter’s question. “I’m also very empathetic toward officer Mercer. I know that had to be a difficult position to be in.”
Khoury, who’s a deputy prosecutor in central Indiana’s Madison County, was appointed in June to investigate Reed’s fatal shooting after Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears sought a special prosecutor.
Mears said that Chief Randal Taylor’s role as a material witness in the case constituted “a conflict of interest” for the prosecutor’s office. Days of protests followed Reed’s killing, which came hours before Indianapolis police officers fatally shot another Black man, 19-year-old McHale Rose, and an officer fatally struck a pregnant white woman with his car.
Police have said Reed and Rose both shot at officers before they were killed in separate incidents just hours apart.
In Reed’s shooting, Indianapolis police said officers, including Taylor, began pursuing Reed after they saw someone driving recklessly on Interstate 65. Supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was going nearly 90 mph (145 kph), police said. An officer, Mercer, later spotted the car on a city street and chased Reed on foot before police say Reed and the officer exchanged gunfire.
According to police, Mercer first tried to use a stun gun, then shot Reed as they exchanged gunfire. Assistant Chief Chris Bailey has said a gun found near Reed appeared to have been fired at least twice.
The state police investigation included video from Reed’s cellphone and surveillance video from exterior cameras of a nearby lock and key business. The video shows Reed running from Mercer before falling face-first to the ground.
State police Detective David Herron told reporters Tuesday evening that it appears Mercer first used a stun gun, but Reed was not incapacitated by the two electric probes that struck him.
Reed was able to fire two shots from his handgun and Mercer fired 13 shots, but investigators were not able to determine who shot first.
Herron said Reed suffered gunshot wounds to his left arm and left shoulder area, a leg, his head and back of the neck.
Reed had stolen the gun from a pawn shop in Texas and apparently used it in two previous shooting incidents in Indiana, Herron said.
Reed’s mother, other relatives and the family’s attorneys have said that they don’t trust the police department and believe it is trying to conceal information.
“The things that you may have heard in the news coming from anyone, just know the fabrication is real. Everything that someone has told you ... is a complete lie,” Wynn said on Aug. 5 after the Marion County coroner’s officer released Reed’s autopsy report to his family.
Corey Williams reported from Detroit.