De’Joure Mercer, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer who shot and killed Dreasjon Reed on May 6, 2020, is suing the National Football League (NFL) over online materials that associated Reed with victims of police brutality.
The complaint was filed June 14 in federal Southern District of Indiana court, targeting website posts and video, featuring Reed, produced by the NFL that intended to “honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct and social justice heroes.”
In the complaint, Mercer’s lawyer writes the video “gives rise to the inference, implication and imputation that Mercer committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during the May 6 encounter with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd. This inference, implication and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts.”
Reed, 21, was tased following a high-speed chase with IMPD on I-65. During a press conference in November 2020, Indiana State Police (ISP), who investigated the case, said the taser did not effectively subdue Reed, and he was shot multiple times before dying at the scene. ISP said Reed shot at Mercer twice, a claim Reed’s family attorneys deny. His death, along with the death of 18-year-old McHale Rose a few hours later, sparked a series of protests in downtown Indianapolis.
Guy A. Relford, Mercer’s attorney, released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
“De’Joure Mercer is a hero. He tracked down a very dangerous criminal wanted by the police, who was a threat to the citizens of Indianapolis. He put his life on the line and was nearly killed in that effort. He was completely exonerated after an exhaustive investigation into the death of Mr. Reed. For NLF Enterprises then to suggest he was involved in a police or racist misconduct is totally false, defamatory and unacceptable. What happened here has nothing to do with racism. While we support NFL Enterprises’ efforts to address social justice issues, Officer Mercer is taking a stand for the many, many good cops on duty across America. He is standing up for his friends and colleagues and sending a message that before you accuse a decorated police officer of misconduct in a national campaign, you had better get your facts straight.”
While the NFL used Reed’s name and image in its campaign, Mercer was never mentioned by name.