The Indianapolis police officer who fatally shot Dreasjon Reed last year is suing the National Football League over a video and other online posts that suggest he died of “systemic racism.”
The story: Indianapolis Metro Police Department Officer De’Joure Mercer filed the lawsuit against the league in the federal Southern District of Indiana Court on Monday.
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His lawyer, Guy A. Relford, wrote in the complaint that the materials published by the NFL imply that Mercer “committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during the May 6 (e)ncounter with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd.”
“This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts,” the lawsuit reads. Similarly, the [material] accuses Mercer of committing acts amounting to ‘social injustice,’ which is unequivocally and demonstrably false.”
Specifically, the complaint takes issue with the NFL’s decision to include Reed in its Inspire Change campaign intended to “honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct, and social justice heroes.” Reed was also featured in an NFL video called “Say their Stories” which was part of the campaign.
Mercer is now seeking a jury trial and “substantial compensatory damages.”
How we got here: Mercer shot and killed Dreed on May 6, 2020, after he led police on a high-speed chase, which eventually turned into a foot pursuit.
A grand jury determined there was not enough evidence to indict Mercer for homicide or other crimes in Reed’s death. The Indiana State Police also conducted a probe into the shooting and found it was within IMPD’s use of force policies and did not break state law.
The investigation found that Reed fired shots as well, from a gun that had been stolen from a pawn shop in Texas and used in two drive-by shootings in Indianapolis. They also found that Mercer first used his stun gun and knocked Reed to the ground but could not determine who fired first, WTHR reports.
Mercer still works as a police officer, the Indy Star reported.
A statement from the lawyer: Relford called Mercer a “hero” and said he risked his life to stop a “very dangerous criminal.”
“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 NFL Enterprises then to suggest he was involved in police or racist misconduct is totally false, defamatory and unacceptable. What happened here has nothing to do with racism,” Relford told FOX 59.
“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,” he added.
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