UPDATE: No charges against Indianapolis officer in fatal shooting; evidence shows victim and officer fired shots

Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury announced that a grand jury did not indict an officer in the death of Dreasjon Reed. "I hope that anyone who was a part of this entire process can look at this and feel comfortable the investigation was done in an impartial manner." (Screenshot from press conference)

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.

Downtown businesses and building owners have been preparing for the decision by boarding up windows, worried that a decision or against an indictment could spark the kind of civil unrest that hit Indianapolis in late May. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also stepped up its presence downtown late Tuesday afternoon.

Immediately after the announcement, there was little sign of protests and no signs of violence, although a Twitter account for Black Lives Matter Indy called on people to come downtown to Meridian and New York streets. “Bring your signs your rage and your pain,” the tweet said. “Head there now.”

By 7:45 p.m., about 100 people had gathered downtown near New York and Meridian streets to protest what they said continue to be injustices in the criminal justice system.

In a statement, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, which has a number of members from Indianapolis, urged against violence. “While we respect engagement and demonstrations, we want to encourage everyone to be cautious,” the statement said. “The IBLC will remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation. We implore everyone to remain safe and remember that we are in the middle of global pandemic. Please treat each other with humanity and kindness.”

The NAACP’s Greater Indianapolis chapter also called for peace. “By remaining peaceful, the overall message of respect and transparency in policing will not get lost,” said Chrystal Ratcliffe, the group’s president.

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 the foot chase on Facebook.

Khoury is a deputy prosecutor in central Indiana’s Madison County and was appointed in June to investigate Reed’s fatal shooting after Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears sought a special prosecutor. She 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.

“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.”

Protesters gathered near New York and Meridian streets downtown a couple of hours after the announcement that a grand jury had not indicted a police officer in Dreasjon Reed’s death. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

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. Family members 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.

But state police officials released details Tuesday night they said prove Reed pulled his gun and shot twice. That evidence also found that Mercer shot 13 times, police said.

Ratcliffe said the NAACP “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.”

John Kautzman, an attorney representing Mercer, said in a statement Tuesday night that “the evidence proved that Mercer was justified in defending himself on the date in question and did not engage in any improper conduct related to this encounter.”

“The evidence showed that he took actions consistent with his training—and more importantly—consistent with the law,” the statement said.

But state Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said she continues “to be disappointed in a system that clearly emphasizes policing over justice. No matter the circumstances and no matter what the grand jury decided, a young Black man has died at the hands of trained officers. Even if there will be no indictment, it is clear that the way that law enforcement operates in this country too often leads to dead Black Americans.”

Reed’s mother filed a wrongful death federal lawsuit in June against the city, its police department and four officers, including Mercer.

Khoury called investigating Reed’s death a “very heavy burden.”

“I don’t know how Mr. Reed’s mother feels, but I’m a mother of two Black boys,” she said, while also acknowledging she is “also empathetic to officer Mercer. That was a very difficult position to be in.”

“I have to believe in the system,” she said.

In a statement, IMPD said its grateful to Khoury, Indiana State Superintendent Doug Carter, the troopers who participate in the investigation and the citizens who served on the grand jury to ensure a “fair and just investigative process and transparent outcome.”

The department also thanked residents for awaiting the conclusion of the investigative process.

“We understand that this result may be frustrating for some of our residents, but it is our hope that the full transparency offered by Prosecutor Khoury and Superintendent Carter will help to move our city forward, improve the relationship between our officers and neighborhoods and bring us closer to healing the division in our community,” the department said in written comments. “We look forward to continuing productive dialogue with our residents and building the types of partnerships with our neighborhoods that prevent violence.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the grand jury’s decision not to indict the involved officer “draws this process to a close.”

“This decision ends the criminal review of the interaction but it doesn’t heal the divides in our community caused by a heartbreaking incident such as this,” he said in a statement.

“I offer my sincere thanks to the many faith and community leaders who have advocated for law enforcement reforms, including the creation of a Use of Force Review Board, changes to our use of force policy, the implementation of body cameras, and a citizen-majority General Orders Board,” he said. ” These reforms are meaningful steps forward as we continue to build new trust between Indianapolis neighborhoods and our police department.”

A statement from the African American Coalition said it would continue its “ongoing work of creating a relationship between the police and the community built on trust, shared accountability and mutual respect.”

“We hope that things for which we have advocated for and are being implemented including implicit bias training, body cameras, de-escalation training, citizens on both the use of force and general orders boards are steps to prevent future police action shootings and promote existence of real accountability,” the coalition said.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

31 thoughts on “UPDATE: No charges against Indianapolis officer in fatal shooting; evidence shows victim and officer fired shots

  1. He was a felon with FOUR outstanding warrants. He led police officers on a dangerous high speed chase, then crashed the car and fled on foot, firing at the officers with an illegal, stolen hand gun. What is the world coming to, to think that behavior like that is OK ? She’s is NUTs ! The entitlement mentality needs to be quashed !

    1. This ended as it should have. Law and order still stand tall in Indianapolis despite Mayor Joe letting rioters trash out downtown.

  2. I truly feel for the mother. I also feel for the position both the officer and the special prosecutor were put in by this young man. The heavy question is if the special prosecutor and/or the officer were not Black would the public response be different. I think we know the answer to that question.

    1. Don’t feel for the mother at all – she raised a career criminal felon who was so cocky to assume he could fire at police officers and survive……

  3. Why is the prosecutor emotional? What does her being the mother of 2 black boys have to do with anything? And why is she saying she “tried” to be impartial? Unreal.

    1. I felt she was being emotional because she knew the ramifications of her announcement. She was probably scared to death her words would start a riot downtown.

    1. You mean “Innocent until proven guilty”? One of the keystones of our justice system?
      I’m not defending the actions taken by Reed. He clearly had issues and needed help. But in any police interaction the goal should be for no one to die or have violence inflicted upon them – police or fellow citizen.

    2. Joseph, The goal of any good parent would be to raise children so that they don’t get into felony situation once, much less on a repeated basis.

    3. In most police interactions that’s exactly what happens. But when you flee and shoot at officers, it’s now a matter of the life of civilians and officers over the life of a criminal.

    4. Glen, your response doesn’t even acknowledge the point of your post that I called out. You accused liberals of assuming innocence of suspected, untried criminals. That is a key point of our justice system and I don’t understand your attack on it.
      If we don’t assume innocence until proven guilty then who gets to kill suspected criminals? Can I?
      I have no issue with the officer involved using force when fired upon. It seems like a fair use of force against an armed attacker. I do have an issue with statements like yours that try to paint a picture that liberals are cop haters because we don’t like people getting killed.
      Does this case require the same anger and protesting that the death of George Floyd does? No. I think most reasonable can see the difference between the two. BUT there still exists a system where the police get qualified immunity when using violent means and then get to investigate their own potential wrong doings.

      Our disadvantaged communities need plenty of support for parents. But one side of the aisle wants to keep kicking people when they are down and expects the “invisible hand” of the market to lift everyone up “by their own bootstraps”. They don’t recognize that these things don’t actually exist and are just catchy phrases to use on the working class to get them to vote against their best interests. End rant.

    5. There’s a difference between people “assuming innocence” without all the facts and the cops being shot at and “assuming guilt and danger”. You know exactly which Glen F meant, Joseph.

    6. I don’t want the “invisible hand” of anything to pick anyone up. Ii just want a country where you can succeed if you want to. That’s this country.

  4. Wow……. why would there be any “rage” about an officer defending himself when a thug has fired a gun at the officer???? The rage should be over a felon endangering lives on I-465 and endangering an honored officers life by trying to shoot him…
    “although a Twitter account for Black Lives Matter Indy called on people to come downtown to Meridian and New York streets. “Bring your signs your rage and your pain,” the tweet said. “Head there now.””

    1. BINGO, Jay C. Black Lives Matter needs to be exposed for the anti-nuclear-family Marxist organization it really is. This sort of thing helps do that.

    2. 911: what can we do for you today
      caller: My nephew is laying in the street shot and the is being beat by 3 people
      911: what is you address
      caller: (yelling) please sent he police now
      911: what is you address
      caller: 212 xyz st send the police now, now
      911: The police no longer respond to 911 calls, we will schedule you a meeting with a counselor to de-escalate the situation
      caller: no we need the police
      911: Ms. X BLM has insisted that we defund police and provide de-escalation training, we therefor can schedule a counselor to come out
      caller: who am I supposed to call then
      911: the number to the BLM office is 317-xxx-xxxx you can see what they think.
      caller: you mean I call 911 and this is the response of the police department
      91l: If you need the police you need to call Washington DC where the nationalized police department is located. there number is 202-xxx-xxxx
      caller: are you fricking kidding me
      911: no, this is what defunding the police has done to your local police department. would next Tuesday at 3:15 PM be convenient for a social worker to come see you.
      caller: No he is dead just send the coroner.

    3. Sir with the gun. You sir. The career criminal who clearly cares about laws. Please put the weapon down and relax.

    4. Steve R. – how disingenuous can you be? That is not the future that those calling to defund the police want. A better term would be to re-allocate police resources to best serve our communities. Do armed officers need to be involved with every wellness check? Anytime someone with a mental condition needs assistance? Why are armed officers called to so many different kinds of emergencies?

      Wouldn’t their time be better spend doing police work and investigating crimes? What if we had trained mental health and other professionals available to assist when an armed officer isn’t needed? Seems like a good idea to keep police focused on crime and also provide help for those that need it.

    5. I’m sure you’ll change your opinion when an innocent “situation deescalator” is murdered by one of these “wellness check” subjects.

    6. Joseph W, what do you think would have happened to a social worker that had responded to a domestic violence incident at the wellington park apartments where a police officer was shot and killed? Thank goodness she had back up there to apprehend the person.

    7. Rhea – In that situation things may have been de-escalated if a non-armed social worker was the first to make contact.
      If the only tool we have for protecting our communities is a hammer (armed police), then lots of issues start looking like nails (criminals needing punished).
      How about we focus on building stronger communities, with love and care for the under-privileged and support for those that need help? How about rehabilitation for people who commit crimes instead of punishment? How about a police force that doesn’t see themselves as the only thing holding back society from chaos )Thin blue line, anyone?) and instead sees themselves as PARTNERS with their communities, working towards a common goal? A lot of what people are upset about is the militarization of our police and the accompanying mindset that pits police against the fellow citizens they are suppose to be SERVING.

    8. How about you live in the real world where people don’t care about the law and view themselves as entitled to anything they desire? The police aren’t militarized. They are under attack and continue to do their job to the best of their ability. 99.9% of the time they do it well. The media chooses to focus on a very very small number of interactions, with an even smaller number of those which are legitimate cause for concern. If we as a society would stop encouraging this behavior by “protesting” against the police and civilized society, we’d have even fewer issues. This isn’t a police problem. It’s a culture problem.

    9. I agree up poor as heck in a rural town where the average person was below the poverty line. I knew people with dirt floors and no plumbing. Guess what we DIDN’T do because we had a strong parental influence? Loot, steal, and commit crimes. Because we knew our community and our parents would make us regret it. That mentality doesn’t exist in the inner city, regardless of race (before you go there). That is the problem. Not “privilege”.

    10. Nicholas F – But what you describe IS privilege. You even say it yourself. You grew up with parents and in a community that you knew cared about you and were paying attention to your needs. You didn’t need to steal or commit other crimes precisely BECAUSE you had that support. THAT’S the point people can’t seem to understand. We have decades of laws that were implemented solely to keep poor and minority people down and you want to stand there and say “What’s the matter with you? Why can’t you be successful like me? Get your house in order and start contributing to society!”. Segregation, jim crow laws, white flight, redlining, etc, etc, ALL made it harder for these communities you disparage to be a part of a functioning economy. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect people to now be fully engrained members of society when they come from generations of ancestors that were intentionally left out and kicked to the side. That’s what conservatives need to realize. Are laws may no longer be objectively racist – but the damage has been done over the past 400+ years. That damage isn’t healed by saying “Look, you’re equal! Time to contribute and stop asking for welfare now.”

  5. The correct decision. Yet again, an aggressive career criminal’s family believes that her kid can do whatever he wants without ramification. Start taking some responsibility for the way you’re raising your kids.

  6. As usual we take things to extreme. So every time in this country a black person is shot by police either riots and looting must take place or the police must be charged and prosecuted. Why would the police want to get involved at all? The current environment is going to increase crime to the point where communities finally say enough, we must let the police do their jobs without constant fear of prosecution. We went from looking at egregious situations as an exception to any police shooting is unwarranted. Taking a serious look at situations that warrant it is good, but neutering the police is not a good thing.

    1. So true. We should let each precinct vote. If you don’t want cops, they won’t come. Problem solved.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.