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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Community rallying for answers with little trust in police

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Police say there was a gun lying next to the body of Sean Reed, who an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer fatally shot May 6.

The gun was loaded and had been fired, police say, before the officer shot dead the 21-year-old Reed, who captured the incident — including a police chase and foot pursuit — on Facebook Live.

Plenty of skeptics in the African American community aren’t buying that.

“They gonna always say we got a gun,” Terrance Hood belted through a megaphone May 7 at a protest outside of the city-county building.

Hood, CEO of HOOD2HOOD, was one of many speakers who addressed the crowd full of signs and face coverings.

Whenever you get pulled over, Hood said, stream it for evidence.

• MORE: ‘We’re just trying to get answers’: Fatal IMPD shooting captured on Facebook Live

The crowd gathered on the street between the city-county building and Indianapolis City Market on East Market Street. For a second straight day, they were demanding answers about what led to Reed’s death.

It appeared to be roughly the same size crowd that showed up at Michigan Road and 62nd Street — where the shooting happened — the previous night after the video of Reed’s death spread quickly on social media.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, word spread on social media that Reed was unarmed. He appeared to flee on foot after parking his car behind a business, but the video is too shaky to make out any details.

Reed eventually falls to the ground with his phone landing face up, and then roughly 15 shots ring out.

Did they all come from the officer?

IMPD says no.

Many will not be convinced by a police account of events, though.

IMPD has been touting its gradual return to a beat policing system, which is supposed to help officers and the community become better acquainted. IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said during an update May 7 police officers care about the people they serve.

These aren’t new messages from IMPD or any number of police departments around the country, but little has changed in the way of police relationships with African American communities.

Even when some of the organizers who’ve been leading these protests disagree about what exactly their methods and goals should be, distrust for police seems to be one of the reliable feelings to pull everyone together.

Erica Bailey, the daughter of Aaron Bailey, who was killed by Indianapolis police in 2017, took the stage and encouraged everyone to keep up what they’ve been doing.

“Y’all come out, and y’all fight, and y’all don’t give up,” she said through tears.

When someone tried reading an update that police gave shortly before the protest, not many were able to hear what was said because enough people started booing and chanting to drown out the noise.

Shane Shepherd, founder of B4U Fall, told everyone it’s OK that some people have differences in opinion right now.

Look up to those windows in the city-county building, he told the crowd, and flip off anyone looking down.

Everyone raised a middle finger.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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