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City's request for federal oversight in Dreasjon Reed case delayed

Dreasjon Reed.JPG
Posted at 9:02 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 14:10:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The city's request of federal oversight in the Dreasjon Reed case is not expected to kick in, if at all, until a special prosecutor concludes her investigation and a three-person panel releases its findings by December.

Lawyers representing Reed's family have called on the Department of Justice to have the FBI investigate the case.

Reed was fatally shot by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer on May 6 after he led police on a vehicle pursuit, parked the car and then jumped out. IMPD says Officer DeJoure Mercer briefly chased Reed on foot before attempting to stop the 21-year-old with a taser.

IMPD claims that Reed fired a weapon at Officer Mercer, who then exchanged gunfire, fatally wounding Reed. A weapon was found lying next to Reed’s body after the shooting.

The Law Firm of Fatima Johnson, which is representing Reed's family, claims surveillance video Call 6 Investigates shared last month, which shows Reed running from a car with what appears to be a white t-shirt in one hand and two cell phones in his other hand, is evidence that he was not holding a gun at the time.

Call 6 Investigates reported in June that Mercer fired his gun more than 10 times and the gun found next to Reed’s body was also fired twice.

Special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury has been assigned to the case. A three-person panel including attorney Deb Daniels, Marian University President Sean Huddleston and former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby will release its findings by December.

After seeing a tweet from WRTV reporting on the delay in the possibility of federal oversight, The Law Firm of Fatima Johnson released a scathing statement Tuesday that criticized Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

"(Hogsett) was quoted in the Indianapolis Star saying he requested U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler’s office and the FBI to 'actively monitor' the probes. He also asked that federal authorities agreed to get involved. We asked the same question the community asked, 'What exactly will federal involvement be?' We were never given an answer," the statement said.

"So, on June 29, 2020, we did what any citizen who needs answers would do. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for proof that Mayor Hogsett asked for federal intervention or oversight," the statement continued. "We also asked for proof of the U.S. Attorney’s response. To date, we have not received any more than a canned response acknowledging that our request was received by the Mayor’s Office. Accordingly, it came as no surprise to hear that the Department of Justice is not involved in this case at all."

WRTV has reached out to the mayor's office for comment.

Read the full statement from The Law Office of Fatima Johnson below:

Our first and only encounter with Mayor Hogsett along this journey was three weeks after Dreasjon was killed, when we tagged along with Indy10 Black Lives Matter during their first and only meeting at the Mayor’s Office. We went in with very low expectations; however, Mayor Hogsett still found a way to disappoint us. He was rude, dismissive, and condescending to a mother who had just lost her only son. He seemed less than interested in Dreasjon’s murder or any of the events that led to the mass protests in Indianapolis. He seemed only to be concerned with weather he had a good night’s sleep. He pretended as if he knew no details of IMPD’s investigation, including who the shooter was. The attitude of the person we met with that day let us know that any feigned concern Mayor Hogsett has demonstrated for the Black community has been merely performative politicking. To Mayor Hogsett, the Black community of Indianapolis deserves equality only when a camera is rolling. As he runs in and out of Black churches like he’s playing the “Chitlin’ Circuit," he has only proven one thing—that he does not care about Black people, he only cares about Black votes.

That’s right. To the Black person reading this, Mayor Hogsett does not care about you. To the non-Black person reading this, he does not care about you either. Nor does he care about your children. How can we say this so unabashedly? We say this because you came out en masse to call for transparency. You showed up to ask for federal oversight of the investigation into Dreasjon’s murder at the hands of IMPD. The mayor repeatedly said that you, Concerned Citizen, would have this transparency and oversight. We find out today that they mayor you have rallied for, the mayor you show up for, is not willing to show up for you. The mayor has intentionally withheld the truth from you. How do we know about this?

Mayor Hogsett has not always been Mayor Hogsett. He was once U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. Wikipedia says his tenure was marked by an aggressive approach in combating civil rights violations, amongst other things. This background is extremely relevant because that means Mayor Hogsett has the connections, the power, and the knowledge to ask for federal oversight of a case if he wanted to.

Just a few months ago, that is what Mayor Hogsett said he did. He was quoted in the Indianapolis Star saying he requested U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler’s office and the FBI to “actively monitor” the probes. He also asked that federal authorities agreed to get involved. We asked the same question the community asked, “What exactly will federal involvement be?” We were never given an answer.

So, on June 29, 2020, we did what any citizen who needs answers would do. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for proof that Mayor Hogsett asked for federal intervention or oversight. We also asked for proof of the U.S. Attorney’s response. To date, we have not received any more than a canned response acknowledging that our request was received by the Mayor’s Office.

Accordingly, it came as no surprise to hear that the Department of Justice is not involved in this case at all. The only question to answer was whether the mayor was being willfully ignorant of the process of asking for federal help or whether he intended to deceive the public by saying anything to placate them. We know it is the latter. Had Mayor Hogsett really asked for the Feds to come in, he had insisted, the FBI would be waist-deep in the investigation, the same way they conducted an investigation after the Aaron Bailey shooting in 2017, when former police chief, Bryan Roach, requested information. I know the mayor does not expect anyone to believe that he has less power than the former chief of police. When we asked for federal intervention, the Department of Justice acknowledged our request with a letter. I know if we got a letter, then Mayor Hogsett, friend of governors, presidents, and the people must have gotten a response too. It is insulting for him to not expect us to believe that his time at the helm of the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not afford him the privilege of a response to his request.

In using this tragedy of the IMPD’s murder of Dreasjon Reed to play politics, the mayor has modeled the very behavior that the country is making clear it wants to eradicate. The mayor is derelict in his duties owed to his constituents. He has shown a failure in leadership and a failure in the competency required to lead an increasingly diverse city. He told his constituents a half-truth and relied on the assumption that they would ask no questions. Mayor Hogsett has underestimated the people of Indianapolis for the very last time.

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