On Monday, the Indianapolis police officer filed a lawsuit against the National Football League over material published online that associated Reed with other civil rights figures killed by police, claiming that a Black man he shot and killed died because of “systemic racism.”
In a tweet, in December the NFL honored Dreasjon Reed as part of the league’s “Say Their Stories” campaign.
“One of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program,” NFL said in a tweet.
Say His Name: Dreasjon Reed
Dreasjon is one of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program.#SayTheirStories: https://t.co/vwi75WmNxr pic.twitter.com/wWaasw6LBp
— NFL (@NFL) December 16, 2020
IMPD officer De’Joure Mercer filed the complaint Monday in federal Southern District of Indiana court.
Mercer’s lawyer, Guy A. Relford, wrote in the complaint that the materials the league published imply 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.”
According to FOX 59, Relford called Mercer a hero in a separate statement.
“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,” Relford said in the statement. “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.
“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.”
Indianapolis police told the Indy Star that Mercer is still a police officer. The NFL has not commented on the lawsuit. Mercer is reportedly seeking a jury trial and “substantial compensatory damages.”
The incident between police and Reed occurred in May 2020 – just a few weeks before Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. According to the paper, Mercer shot and killed Reed after a vehicle chase turned into a foot chase. An investigation into the shooting revealed that Reed fired shots at Mercer during the pursuit, which an attorney from Reed’s family denied.
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