The family of Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, the 21-year-old Black man who was killed by a police officer in Indianapolis in May, have filed a lawsuit against the department for using “excessive and deadly force” in his killing.
The lawsuit, which was filed on June 16, Reed’s birthday, alleges that the Indianapolis Police Department (IMPD), as well as the City of Indianapolis, did not correctly train officers in civilian engagement and de-escalation.
“The IMPD and the City of Indianapolis had a duty but failed to implement and/or enforce policies, practices, and procedures for IMPD officers that respected Reed’s constitutional rights to assistance and protection,” the lawsuit said.
“This fight is not over. His life is not over. And don’t forget who my son is because you can’t see him,” Reed’s mother Demetree Wynn said during a Tuesday press conference. “We talked about how this day was supposed to go. But I can’t stand here with him because he was taken away from me.”
The lawsuit comes amid widespread protests and outrage over police-involved shootings and killings of unarmed Black men and women across the country.
On May 6, police officers responded to reports of Reed allegedly driving dangerously on an Indianapolis Interstate. They began to chase his vehicle. Reed shared video footage of the chase live on Facebook while he was driving, and was believed to be speaking directly to viewers as he streamed. As he parked his car, he tells the viewers his address and is heard saying, “please come get me.”
According to police, Reed ignored the commands of officers to stop as he got out of his car, though no such commands were heard in Reed’s video. As he’s seen running, someone is heard in the background yelling for him to stop. Shortly afterward, gunshots are heard. At the time of the incident, police said there “was an exchange of gunfire between the driver and the officer.” (The lawsuit makes a different claim, and says that Reed can be seen instead carrying two cellphones and a white T-shirt.) Reed was shot and killed, but the officer was not hit.
The officer who chased him, named as De’joure Marquise Mercer in the lawsuit, fired his taser at Reed, the lawsuit said, and Reed began to convulse on the ground. Officer Mercer then “began firing multiple shots at Reed with his firearm,” the lawsuit continues. “Reed died instantly.”
The lawsuit also claims that Mercer never told Reed to drop a weapon, or warn him that he was going to shoot.
After the shooting, a conversation between officers responding to the scene is heard on the livestream video. A male voice, who the suit named as Officer Steven Scott, says, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket homie.”
The suit references these comments, calling them “callous disregard for the life of Reed.” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said at the time of the incident that officer Scott would face disciplinary action and called the comments “unacceptable.”
The IMPD did not immediately respond for TIME’s request for comment on what action(s) have since been undertaken, or to offer a response to the Reed family’s lawsuit.
During the press conference, Fatima Johnson, an attorney for Reed’s family, says that the department needs to be held accountable.
“It is a shame that we’ve had to do all of this just to get the transparency that we were promised,” Johnson said at the presser. “But we are willing to do this and more in order to get answers and in order to get justice for Dreasjon today.”
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