The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights on Thursday (May 21) sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding an investigation into the deadly police shooting of Dreasjon “Sean” Reed in Indianapolis. They are also urging the agency to launch an investigation into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s (IMPD) “history of police violence against the Black and Brown communities it serves,” the letter reads.
The day after Reed was killed, The New York Times reported the 21-year-old “was shot and killed while running from a police officer after a car chase” on the evening of May 6. Reed was “streaming live on Facebook during the chase, and thousands of people were tuned in when he was shot,” according to The Times.
From The Times:
Randal Taylor, the police chief, said on Thursday that a gun was found near Mr. Reed and that it had been fired twice, but that it was not clear “which shots were fired when.” Activists remained skeptical of the police account, and despite Mr. Reed’s video, critical questions remained unanswered; much of the encounter took place off-camera and the police said no body or dash cameras had recorded the killing.
The video did capture a morbid joke from a detective, out of view of the camera, after Mr. Reed was shot. “Think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” the detective said, apparently referring to Mr. Reed’s funeral. Chief Taylor said disciplinary action would be taken against the detective and called the comments “unacceptable.”
In their letter to the DOJ, the ACLU and Leadership Conference note that Reed can be seen on his Facebook Live moments before his death, “parking his car and giving his location to those watching as he pleads for help, saying ‘please come get me.’” Police then chased Reed on foot before “shooting him at least a dozen times,” the letter states.
The ACLU said in an emailed statement that it is making three urgent demands of the DOJ:
- Open a federal civil rights investigation of the officers involved in the death of Dreasjon Reed.
- Pursue a pattern or practice investigation of IMPD for civil rights violations.
- Reconsider its approach to addressing systemic police misconduct by law enforcement agencies nationally.
The letter states:
Mr. Reed’s fatal police shooting is not an isolated incident, which suggests possible systemic constitutional violations by IMPD. In fact, the very same day that police killed Mr. Reed, IMPD officers killed two other people in Indianapolis. In one police fatally shot a man, and in the other, an officer struck and killed a pregnant pedestrian—all mere hours apart. In addition to this police-involved violence, IMPD has previously generated national attention for inflicting fatal force on Black residents.
The advocacy organizations close their letter to the DOJ by asking for a commitment to ensuring a fair, safe environment for Black people in the United States: “DOJ must take the necessary actions to ensure full and real accountability of local law enforcement agencies engaged in conduct that continues the dehumanization of Black people across America.”
Click here to read the ACLU’s full letter to the DOJ.