INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple source have indicated that IMPD has canceled days off and put officers on 12-hours shifts in anticipation of an announcement by the special prosecutor overseeing the grand jury investigation into the fatal shooting of Dreasjon Reed by an Indianapolis officer last summer on the city’s north side.
Officer Dejoure Mercer said Reed fired at him twice during a foot chase in the vicinity of 62nd Street and North Michigan Road May 6 before the patrolman fired back, fatally wounding the 21-year-old man.
Peaceful protest marches descended into violence throughout downtown Indianapolis on the night of May 29 in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis as crowds demonstrated in support of social justice.
Over the next three nights, two men were murdered, more than 170 people were arrested and looters, rioters and arsonists literally rocked the downtown area, leaving behind more than $7 million in financial losses that resulted in hastening the exit of several businesses and the erection of plywood boards that remain in place over broken and repaired windows even today.
Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury, a deputy prosecutor from Anderson, last week lost her race to become a judge in the Madison County Division 4 Circuit Court.
That election setback coincided with the presentation of evidence before grand jurors and set the stage for a decision to be announced perhaps as soon as Monday afternoon, as revealed by a Downtown Indy Inc. security partnership safety update released Sunday morning that read:
“Downtown Indy, Inc. believes that a grand jury announcement in the Dreasjon Reed case is forthcoming-perhaps as early as Monday afternoon, Nov. 9. After continued conversations with IMPD, DII acknowledges that businesses may wish to take appropriate measures to secure their properties due to the possibility of civil unrest as a result of this announcement.”
“We’re prepared,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor told FOX59 last Thursday morning. “We have plans in place for that. Obviously I can’t go into those details, but we’re aware that there are decisions to be made relatively soon on that.
“My hope is that whatever comes out of that decision is, it’s explained thoroughly and people understand that hopefully those that would want to react violently would understand that there’s no benefit in that, no reason for that, no cause for that. We’re hoping that whatever decision is made is one we can all live with and learn from and move on from there.”
Mayor Joe Hogsett expressed similar hopes on the afternoon of May 30 as talks with protest leaders resulted in a pledge to end demonstrations by 7 p.m., and while many crowd members left the downtown area, others remained and more arrived as the heart of the city descended into chaos for the second night in a row.
“I’ve had some conversations with some people just priming them either way for whether it’s a ‘No Bill’ or charges, so those conversations have taken place. They’re not finalized, but we have started down that path,” Taylor said. “Every time we’ve had those conversations, I think people are committed to being peaceful about it, which is great. We had some of those conversations prior to the disturbances downtown, too, as well, so I believe in their mind they’re thinking its gonna be peaceful, and I’m all for that, but sometimes people go different routes.”
In briefings after the late May riots, Mayor Hogsett put the bulk of the responsibility for keeping the city safe on Taylor and his officers who have developed refined tactics and strategies since the last incidents of civil unrest.
“We looked at that, so this time there will be some different tactics that are going to take place that I think will probably deliver a little better efficiency,” said Taylor. “We’ve had conversations with the mayor and the staff about those things. The particular of those things are things that I’m not going to go into. Those conversations have occurred.
“The kind that happened before, there may be some things we would’ve done different, and that’s fine. We learn from every different issue or incident that we go through. This one probably will be handled a little bit different and, yes, I believe that we’re all on the same page from that standpoint on what the responses will be,” said the chief.
“The mayor and his staff and me and my staff, we are a team. We will work those things as a team. I believe the mayor respects our opinion on things as well, so, if that’s the suggestion, and that’s the way we think things should go, I have confidence that he’ll listen to that and whatever decision is made will be made between the mayor and myself.”
One tactic that will change will be the more judicious use of tear gas on crowds blocking streets.
A recent settlement of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Indy Ten Black Lives Matter resulted in an agreement that IMPD would resort to tear gas only to prevent vandalism and criminal acts.
Jess Louise was in the streets the last weekend of May and was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that claimed IMPD’s stock of tear gas was several years beyond its expiration date.
“I cannot imagine there would be any situation where I could see engaging community members who are engaging in a process that we have rights to using 18-year-old chemical agents in order to encourage us to disperse from an area when city leadership and police have not done their jobs to discourage the police force and the policies of the city to do what we need them to do.
“So, no, I don’t think that they acted in ways that were beneficial to the community or in the scope of their jobs.
“We didn’t hear any orders to disperse when we returned to The Circle having followed the crowd that was marching through downtown and at that time was not engaging in any stores or vandalism.
“We want to be very clear that this did not occur because we’re taking advantage of the rage and the grief of black and brown people who have been subject to state sanctioned violence for the last several years in Indianapolis, across the nation and globally. This occurred because city leadership continues to disregard the basic needs of their constituents, and when their constituents come to them and plead and vote and ask what those needs are, those needs continue to be neglected.”
The May protests took place on or left damages to state property, including The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the War Memorial, University Park and the Indiana Statehouse, which are under the purview of Indiana State Police, Capitol Police and the Indiana National Guard, all of which took up positions as the weekend unrest continued to evolve.
“Enough is enough,” ISP Superintendent Doug Carter told reporters in a statehouse briefing days after the riots as state troopers and National Guard troops became more visible in their presence downtown and at the governor’s residence on North Meridian Street as subsequent protests remained peaceful.
Sources indicate state troopers have been told to be prepared to be deployed downtown in the wake of potential protests following the anticipated release of the Reed grand jury decision.
Mayor Hogsett’s office issued this statement on Monday:
While there have been indications that the grand jury review of the police action shooting involving Dreasjon Reed is set to conclude this week, Special Prosecutor Khoury has not been in contact with the mayor’s office. The grand jury investigation is an independent process, designed to ensure that a thorough review of the incident can occur. While we won’t speak for the Special Prosecutor, I think it is reasonable to assume that conversations between the mayor’s office and Special Prosecutor Khoury could jeopardize the integrity of this effort or lead to the perception of undue influence in the proceedings.
This morning Mayor Hogsett met with IMPD command staff and administration leadership to review operational plans for large-scale public gatherings in downtown Indianapolis. This work has been ongoing, and the Mayor has personally convened multiple meetings of command staff in recent weeks.
In addition, over the last several weeks, IMPD command staff has regularly briefed downtown stakeholder groups about updates to the department’s tactical plans, as well as localized information on events ranging from post-election unrest to potential protests. This morning, Mayor Hogsett and members of IMPD command staff convened a call with BOMA and the Restaurant and Lodging Association that included a cross-section of restaurateurs, hotel managers, and property owners – a meeting meant to ensure that they are well apprised of continued efforts to monitor events and plan for possible gatherings.
Mayor Hogsett is committed to ensuring that all Indianapolis residents living, working, or exercising their first amendment right downtown, can do so safely and peacefully.