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Reed family attorney ‘not surprised’ at grand jury decision

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Fatima Johnson and Swaray Conteh, attorneys for the family of Dreasjon Reed, said in a press conference Nov. 14 they aren’t surprised Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer De Joure Mercer won’t be charged in the May 6 shooting death of Dreasjon Reed. 

Not surprised, but disappointed. 

Johnson and Conteh don’t believe IMPD and Indiana State Police (ISP) evidence that Reed shot at Mercer.

“It would be a rarity to find a Black person who lives in this city who is surprised,” Johnson said. “I’m beyond disgusted that Dreasjon’s family was not given justice. In this case, the flaws of the justice system have been brought to the surface again.”

Reed, 21, was killed May 6 following a high-speed police chase on I-65 with IMPD officers. At one point, Reed exited his vehicle and was in a foot chase with Mercer. All of this, including Reed’s death, was streamed live on Reed’s Facebook page. 

On Nov. 10, special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury, who was requested by Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, said a grand jury did not find enough evidence to file charges against Mercer. ISP, which investigated over 100 hours of evidence in the case, gave a press conference earlier to discuss what investigators found. 

Detective Jeff Hearon played audio footage to show, at one point, there were two gunshots going off at the same time. Hearon said this would have been impossible unless two guns were being fired. Fifteen bullets total were fired, with 13 coming from Mercer’s gun and two coming from a gun that belonged to Reed. Initially, attorneys for the Reed family said he didn’t have a gun on him. ISP evidence showed a gun in Reed’s waistband as he recorded his foot chase with Mercer. 

Johnson said there were at least 10 eyewitnesses who testified before the grand jury. Khoury could not say what evidence was presented to the grand jury, but both Johnson and Conteh said evidence presented from witnesses was consistent. 

Witnesses said they saw Mercer use his Taser on Reed, and Reed fell to the ground. This is congruent with IMPD’s statement early in the investigation. Hearon said Nov. 10 that the Taser was ineffective because it didn’t deliver a full charge. ISP alleged when Reed began to fall, he pulled his weapon. Hearon said he couldn’t say for certain whether Mercer or Reed fired first, but he was confident Reed didn’t fire until Mercer deployed his Taser.

Conteh alleged detectives did not do a gunpowder residue or fingerprint test to prove Reed fired his gun. ISP said two bullet casings, which detectives say came from Reed’s gun, matched bullets found at two drive-by shooting investigations, and the gun was stolen from a pawn shop in Texas. During the Nov. 10 press conference, Hearon declined to provide evidence from the autopsy, saying he would wait for the pathologist to do so.

“I’m not going to dignify their claims regarding how he acquired the gun,” Conteh said. “He’s not here to defend himself, and they were trying to besmirch his character. … [Mercer] didn’t have the right to shoot at him the way he did.”

Johnson and Conteh have filed a civil suit and are preparing for the case because neither feel justice was served. 

“Mercer must be held accountable for the life he took,” Johnson said. “Dreasjon’s family is heartbroken, but the fight will continue.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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