RICK CALLAHAN - Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police faced protests Thursday after officers fatally shot two men and killed a pregnant pedestrian in three separate incidents just hours apart.
Police did not have body camera or dash camera footage of either shooting, but they said both men exchanged gunfire with officers. The pregnant woman was walking along an expressway ramp when an officer driving to work struck her with his vehicle.
Events surrounding the first shooting were livestreamed on Facebook, including comments by a responding detective that the police chief called “unacceptable.”
Protesters converged on the first shooting scene Wednesday night, and dozens more gathered Thursday at the City County Building in downtown Indianapolis. Many wore face masks aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus and at times shouted, “No justice, no peace.”
Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged that the “tragic” incidents had shaken the public’s trust, but promised that the department would conduct thorough, transparent investigations into all three deaths.
“We recognize and are saddened that this mutual trust, that we so value, has been eroded over the last 24 hours, but I remain steadfast in our commitment to be transparent with our community, not just today but throughout the entire process as we learn more about what happened last night,” he said during a news conference.
The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the man killed in the first shooting as Dreasjon Reed, 21, and the man killed later as McHale Rose, 19. Both men were black.
The pregnant woman was identified as Ashlynn Lisby, 23. Lisby was white. Neither she nor her fetus survived.
Protests began after video of the events leading up to Reed's shooting appeared on Facebook. The video shows him being pursued by police before incoherent shouting and popping sounds are heard during a later foot chase. Later, a male voice says, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” an apparent reference to a closed-casket funeral.
Taylor said Thursday that he was “aware of inappropriate comments made by an IMPD detective that was broadcast live on social media during the incident.” He said “immediate disciplinary action” would be pursued against the detective, who was responding to the shooting and was not present when it happened.
The department has conducted a pilot body camera program but has not finalized which cameras it wants to equip its officers with, Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said during a news conference with Taylor.
Reed's shooting happened around 6 p.m. Wednesday after a pursuit that began after officers, including Taylor, observed someone driving recklessly on Interstate 65, police said. Supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was moving close to 90 mph (145 kph), it was later spotted by an officer on a city street before being parked.
That officer left his vehicle and Reed then ran, Bailey said. Reed was shot as he and the officer exchanged gunfire. Bailey said it appears that a gun found near Reed had been fired at least twice. The officer who shot Reed is black, The Indianapolis Star reported, and he has been placed on administrative leave.
The car chase and foot chase were both captured on video, apparently by Reed. At one point after police stop pursuing him, he is heard laughing and cheering. “I’m not going to jail today!” he shouts. Moments later, he appears unsure where he has driven and says in the recording, “Please come get me. Please come get me!”
Reed then appears to park his car and leave it, followed by shouting and popping sounds, at which point he appears to drop his phone or collapse. More popping sounds are heard.
The second shooting happened about eight hours later, as police investigated a burglary at an apartment complex. Police said a man armed with a rifle shot at four responding officers as they approached the apartment about 1:30 a.m. Thursday. Police said officers returned fire, killing the man, later identified as Rose.
Taylor said the initial investigation suggests that Rose “may have made the call with the intention of initiating an ambush-style attack on the officers when they arrived.” He did not rule out the possibility that Reed's earlier fatal police shooting may have spurred Rose's actions, but said there was no evidence to confirm that.
Between those two shootings, Officer Jonathon Henderson, a 22-year veteran, struck Lisby with his vehicle. Police said Henderson requested help and rendered first aid to the woman. Lisby was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Greater Indianapolis NAACP said in a statement Thursday that it was monitoring information about both fatal police shootings.
“Our hearts this morning are with the families who lost loved ones during these tragic events. All of us are trying to make a new normal in an un-normal time. Incidents like these do not help restore normalcy to our community,” said Chrystal Ratcliffe, the president of the NAACP branch.
AP reporter Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.