With a decision in the Dreasjon Reed case expected, here’s how a grand jury works

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been nearly three months since a special prosecutor called a grand jury to review the investigation of the shooting death of Dreasjon Reed.

The 21-year-old man was shot and killed by an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer on May 6 after a police chase and a short foot pursuit.

Sunday, sources confirm the grand jury is likely expected to wrap up Monday afternoon with a decision by the end of the week. The grand jury will decide if an indictment should be brought against Dejoure Mercer, the IMPD officer who shot and killed Reed.

Calling a grand jury is a confidential process that we are continuously seeing replay across our country in cases where police have fired fatal shots.

“It’s designed to provide an ability for an arm’s length transaction by the citizens to review and make a determination of who they think should be charged with an offense,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

A grand jury is made up of six community members with no background in law. They ultimately decide whether to indict a person after a case and its facts are presented.

After reviewing the case and deliberating, the jurors then decides “true bill” (meaning they want to indict someone) or “no bill” (meaning no action taken). The prosecutor ultimately serves as their legal counsel throughout the process.

“The job is to provide as much information as you possibly can to the grand jury to allow them to make a decision. And also, to instruct them as to the law,” said Hill.

The prosecutor should go as far as laying out a list of potential charges that could stick based upon the facts of the case. However, the grand jury has no responsibility to prove the offenses.

“So, the prosecutor is left with the responsibility, whatever the grand jury gives of moving forward in that case,” said Hill.

In September, protests erupted in Louisville surrounding the results of a grand jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor, when no officers were charged in her killing. Demonstrators protested the decision and the secrecy that led up to it. That’s secrecy is for a reason, Hill said.

“The secretive nature of that purpose is designed to protect the interest of the jurors but also to protect the information of innocent people whose information is being presented to the grand jury,” said Hill.

As the decision of Dreasjon Reed looms, some wonder if the unrest in May will repeat itself. Downtown businesses have prepared just in case. But Hill says people will be upset regardless of the outcome.

“Sometimes you don’t get the result that you would like. In fact, that’s typically what these things are all about. People will say we want justice, no you want what you want, you want a result that satisfies you. And sometimes in justice the result is not satisfying and that is what we are up against,” said Hill.

The attorney representing the Reed family sent a statement:

“We are hopeful that the Grand Jury will see through the lies of IMPD and not only listen to the truth from several eyewitnesses to Dreasjon’s murder, but also lead the way to justice for Dreasjon with a decision to indict.”

-Vital Defender, The Law Firm of Fatima Johnson

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