Editorial: Investigation into police shooting set standard for future incidents

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

“No one wins here.”

That was the phrase uttered over and over on Tuesday, as a special prosecutor and the Indiana State Police released details from an probe into the death of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed, who was shot and killed by a police officer after a chase in May.

A grand jury chose not to indict the officer, Dejoure Mercer, after Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury presented it with evidence that Reed had a gun and used it to fire two shots during his encounter with Mercer, who fired 13 times.

Khoury, a deputy prosecutor in Madison County, was highly emotional as she announced the decision. As the mother of two Black sons, she said she felt for the mother of Dreasjon Reed, who was Black. She acknowledged empathy as well for Mercer, who is also Black and whom she said faced a “very difficult position.”

No one wins here.

Those words are so true. And yet, the transparency that the state police and Khoury brought to the Nov. 10 announcement was a win of sorts. By all accounts, it was an investigation done with integrity, with empathy and with impartiality. And the officials involved appeared to share as much about the evidence as they could within the limits of the law.

We believe that is a step in the direction of smarter policing, of bridging the chasm between the Black community and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and public trust in the justice system.

“I don’t believe there could have been another prosecutor assigned to this case who was as neutral as I am or as objective as I have been over the last five months,” an emotional Khoury said. “I have truly kept an open mind about this process. I have tried to be as impartial as I possibly could.”

Organizations that advocate for African Americans appeared to take note of that as well. In a statement, Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the NAACP of Greater Indianapolis, said the group “appreciates the transparency” of the investigation and that the special prosecutor and state police provided “the community as close to a full disclosure as permitted by the law.”

The NAACP called for peace in the streets, as did other groups, who focused on efforts to work with IMPD on policing improvements, rather than stoking outrage.

A few hours after the grand jury decision was delivered, about 200 protesters had gathered downtown to march and chant and call for justice for Reed and other people of color who have died at the hands of police. Those protests did not devolve into violence the way similar but much larger events did in May. Another protest was planned for Nov. 11, after IBJ’s deadline, and so we can’t say here whether peaceful protests continued to dominate the reaction.

But we are confident that Khoury, the Indiana State Police and many of the groups that are fighting for justice and social equity did what they could to keep this investigation and this reaction as productive as possible. We thank those involved and hope it is a model for future investigations into police behavior.•

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