Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randal Taylor on Wednesday called for the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee a criminal investigation into the death of 21-year-old Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, who was fatally shot by police May 6 after a car and foot chase.
Taylor issued a statement shortly after Reed’s mother, Demetree Wynn, called for an independent investigation.
“Nearly a month since the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office declined to review the criminal investigation of Mr. Reed’s death, we continue to await the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee this process,” Taylor said in a written statement. “Our community is rightly calling for the release of information and the fulfillment of our commitment to a transparent investigation with monitoring from federal authorities. This simply cannot occur without the direction and oversight of an independent prosecutor.
“This is unacceptable. Our community and this police department deserve better from the criminal justice system.”
Wynn and her family’s attorneys held a news conference Wednesday in which they called for an independent investigation. They also demanded the release of the Marion County Coroner’s autopsy report and the disclosure of the names of officers involved in his shooting.
The family’s demands come at a time of nationwide protests over the treatment of black people by police following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he pleaded for air.
Reed’s mother also plans to ask for the release of the recorded comments an officer made shortly after her son’s shooting and for more witnesses to come forward.
Police said they began pursuing Reed after officers, including Chief Taylor, saw someone driving recklessly on an interstate. Supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was going nearly 90 mph, police said.
But an officer later spotted the car on a city street before it was parked, and the officer then chased Reed on foot. Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said Reed exchanged gunfire with the officer, who is African American, according to the The Indianapolis Star. Bailey said a gun found near Reed appeared to have been fired at least twice.
But the family said in a statement that witnesses have told the family’s attorneys that this wasn’t the case.
“Every witness that spoke with Mr. Reed’s family’s attorneys has disputed that Mr. Reed brandished a weapon or shot a gun before he was shot to death. Mr. Reed’s family is committed to fighting for the truth about what happened that fateful day,” statement from the family said.
A video released by the family and reviewed by The Indianapolis Star that was apparently recorded in the moments after Reed’s death captures the voices of three women describing what they say they witnessed while driving near the shooting scene.
The woman recording the video said she, her mother, her sister and two other people had just witnessed Reed’s shooting.
“They killed this man for no reason. Shot this man in his back,” said the woman who was recording the video. “Dude was running, dude was running.”
“He was on the ground shaking. They still shot this man,” she said. “After they Tased him, he was on the ground defenseless. Dude couldn’t do nothing and they shot him.”
None of those witnesses are identified in the video, and the family didn’t identify any of them in its news release.
Mayor Joe Hogsett has asked the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI to “actively monitor” the investigations into Reed’s shooting and the fatal police shooting of another man hours later. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears has asked a court to appoint an independent prosecutor to handle the investigation into Reed’s shooting, because Taylor is a witness in the case.
Mears’ office didn’t immediately reply to a message left Wednesday asking whether an independent prosecutor had been appointed.
Events surrounding Reed’s shooting were livestreamed on Facebook, apparently by Reed’s cellphone. That video includes audio from a police detective after Reed’s shooting saying: “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” an apparent reference to a closed-casket funeral.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department suspended that detective for those remarks, which Chief Taylor said were “unacceptable.”