INDIANAPOLIS — The IMPD officer who shot Dreasjon Reed has dropped his lawsuit against the National Football League for defamation over the league’s social justice campaign.
The 32-page lawsuit claimed the NFL caused officer De’joure Mercer severe emotional distress and believes the league should be held accountable, but one local expert on libel law says the case will be very tough to win.
In September and December of 2020, the league mentioned the Reed case as part of an online social justice campaign called “Inspire Change.” It was intended to honor victims of police misconduct and systemic racism but is now the focus of a civil lawsuit.
“No one has a problem with racial equality or social justice, but in an effort to do that, the NFL dramatically got their facts wrong,” said attorney Guy Relford.
Relford claimed the NFL acted with negligence and reckless disregard for the truth about Reed’s death.
Reed was killed by officer Mercer following a high-speed chase in May 2020.
Prior to the shooting, Mercer was honored by IMPD as the northwest district officer of the year.
“De’Joure Mercer, the officer involved in that shooting, is a Black man. He is also a hero and defended himself. He defended his community, and for that he was rewarded by being accused by the NFL of police misconduct and racism,” said Relford.
“The (v)ideo gives rise to the inference, implication, and imputation that Mercer committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during the May 6 encounter with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd,” Mercer’s lawyer wrote in the complaint. “This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts.”
While Reed’s death made national headlines and sparked protests locally, last November, a grand jury and Indiana State Police cleared officer Mercer of any wrong doing.
“All that was available to the NFL, and they still continued with the campaign accusing this officer, this heroic officer, of police misconduct and racism. That’s unforgivable, and it had an effect on him, and that’s what this lawsuit is all about,” said Relford.