INDIANAPOLIS — After family members gathered to release doves on what would have been Dreasjon Reed’s 22nd birthday, attorneys announced the filing of a federal wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit Tuesday.
Attorney Swaray Conteh said the family was celebrating the birthday of Dreasjon Reed, and announced in front of the U.S. Courthouse the filing of a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), IMPD Chief of Police Taylor, Deputy Chief of Police Adams, and IMPD officers Mercer and Scott.
IMPD identified Mercer as the officer who shot Reed. The department said made an inappropriate “closed casket” comment about Reed’s body after the shooting.
“We have been having trouble getting evidence from the IMPD,” said Conteh. “We believe with this lawsuit we will have access to the evidence they have so far. We’ve invited DOJ in the investigation.”
Conteh later said the family has sent a request to the FBI and DOJ, but have not heard from them.
“Our aim in filing this lawsuit is to have some kind of federal say. The fight is beginning. We are going to make sure that the rights of Dreasjon Reed are fully vindicated in this case.” said Conteh.
IMPD has maintained that Reed fired at officers. His family’s attorneys strongly disputed that claim again on Tuesday. They say it is a lie.
The lawsuit claims IMPD and the City of Indianapolis failed to properly train, supervise, or screen officers. It also states Officer Mercer fired multiple shots at Reed after Reed fell on the ground and began to convulse.
Eight counts are listed in the complaint, including excessive use of force and a wrongful death claim.
Conteh said because this is federal court and certain ethical rules apply, the family and attorneys will not be making many public comments, but will be holding press conferences in the future.
Reed’s mother Demetree Wynn thanked people for coming out for his birthday. “I can’t stand here with him because he was taken away from me,” she said. “Now he’s flying away and I can’t take him back. “This fight is not over, his life is not over.”
Wynn’s attorney Fatima Johnson added, “This case is about motherhood. We demand that the people that work for us – IMPD – provide accountability and justice for Dreasjon Reed.”
“We will not stop and we will not relent,” said Johnson. “We will not allow a police department to reverse engineer after the fact. He did not point, shoot or threaten a police officer that day.”
The attorneys stressed that the lawsuit is not meant to impede the special prosecutor appointed in the case. They said it is important she has all of the evidence she needs, and want federal oversight to ensure the completion of the investigation.
In early May, city officials said Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett talked to federal authorities and asked for their involvement in the investigation into the two police action shootings that occurred earlier that week.
“He was thankful that they expressed a willingness to actively monitor the investigation of the two police action shootings that occurred,” said a city spokesperson.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office said the autopsy report is now with the special prosecutor, Rosemary Khoury. Khoury said the final autopsy report based on Indiana State Police’s investigation will be provided as soon as possible.
The Office of Corporation Counsel issued the following response on behalf of the city:
“Out of respect for the judicial process, we do not comment on litigation.”