November 10, 2020

Protesters March Downtown After Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Officer In Death Of Dreasjon Reed

Protesters hold a sign at University Park following a grand jury's decision not to indict an Indianapolis police officer for the May shooting death of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed. - Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Protesters hold a sign at University Park following a grand jury's decision not to indict an Indianapolis police officer for the May shooting death of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed.

Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Protesters rejected a grand jury's decision not to indict an Indianapolis police officer for the May shooting death of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed.

Several dozen gathered downtown at University Park Tuesday evening in support of Reed’s family and to decry the special prosecutor assigned to the investigation and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Protestors like Chris Dilworth said a critical mass of the community is needed to dismantle and rebuild the local criminal justice system.

“Only through what we do here that justice will be done. We can not sit back and allow them to have these victories, right? It is a victory for them,” Dilworth told the crowd through a bullhorn. “They are happy.”

Indy10 Black Lives Matter called for the protest following the announcement by Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury that a six-person grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge IMPD Officer Dejoure Mercer with a crime for the shooting death of Reed on May 6.

Later Tuesday, a state police investigator said Reed fired two shots during a confrontation with Mercer that followed a car chase.

Reed has been a focal point for Indianapolis protesters who took to the streets in late May, sparked by the death of George Floyd who was killed by a white Minneapolis officer. Reed’s name was a rallying cry during the days of protests that included clashes with police.

Indy10 Black Lives Matter has demanded IMPD fire Mercer from the department and he be charged with a crime for Reed’s death.

Tuesday evening, the group that gathered chanted “no justice no peace,” and criticized IMPD officers. They then began a short march north on Meridian Street before stopping near the 12th Street intersection, as a rain downpour began.

IMPD officers on bikes and in patrol cars could be seen throughout downtown. Some businesses boarded up their storefronts after being warned the grand jury decision would happen this week.

The group said it will return Wednesday to protest.

Others also responded to the grand jury decision.

Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP, called for an open dialogue to continue to reimagining policing in the community.

“We appeal to community members who wish to express themselves to do so in a peaceful manner and not engage in detrimental conduct which undermines our cause," Ratcliffe said in a statement. "By remaining peaceful, the overall message of respect and transparency in policing will not get lost."

State Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said she remains disappointed in a system that 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,” Breaux said in a statement. “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 family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city, Mercer and IMPD’s Deputy Chief Kendale Adams and Chief Randal Taylor. Last month a federal judge removed the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department from the lawsuit.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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