An Indianapolis grand jury has decided not to indict a police officer who in May shot dead a 21-year-old man who police said shot the officer, officials said on Tuesday.
The murder was one of three deadly encounters between civilians and police in the city during a traumatic eight-hour period, sparking protests and calls for reform.
A special prosecutor overseeing the case, Rosemary Khoury, told a press conference that she presented “a very thorough and comprehensive investigation” to the grand jury and that her ruling meant he determined “that ‘there was not enough evidence to charge or charge’ the officer with a crime.
At times, Ms. Khoury, deputy district attorney for Madison County, India, appeared to hold back tears as she announced the grand jury’s decision. At one point, she told reporters, “I have to believe justice has been served because I trust our system. I have confidence in our legal system.
Ms Khoury expressed sympathy for the family of the victim, Dreasjon Reed, and the officer, Dejoure Mercer, who, like her, are black.
“I don’t know how Mr. Reed’s mother feels, but I am the mother of two black boys,” Ms. Khoury said. “I am also very empathetic towards Agent Mercer. I know it must have been a difficult position.
The fatal meeting took place on the night of May 6 and led to protests in the city. Mr. Reed broadcast parts of the episode on Facebook Live.
Ms Khoury said on Tuesday that state law prevented her from discussing evidence presented to the grand jury and she declined to say what charges she asked them to consider against the officer. She also declined to comment on how much consideration the grand jury gave to the widely viewed video of the encounter that appeared on Facebook.
At around 6 p.m. on May 6, the police chief and deputy chief were both driving unmarked cars and noticed that Mr. Reed was driving recklessly. When they tried to stop him, he continued to drive and started recording.
Police called off the car chase because it was deemed too dangerous. But as Mr. Reed got out of the car and fled, Agent Mercer, who was nearby, pursued him, shot him and killed him.
Randal Taylor, the police chief, later said a gun was found near Mr Reed and was fired twice, but it was not clear “what shots fire had been fired and when ”.
Thousands of people tuned in to Mr. Reed’s live broadcast when he was shot, but much of the encounter took place off camera. Police said no body camera or dashboard recorded the murder.
The video captured a morbid joke of a detective, out of view of the camera, after Mr. Reed was shot. “I think it’s gonna be a closed casket, mate,” said the detective, apparently referring to Mr. Reed’s funeral.
The police department said in a statement Tuesday that it welcomed the grand jury’s decision, while acknowledging that “this result may be frustrating for some of our residents.”
The department also said it hoped the “full transparency” of the special prosecutor in this case as well as the police commissioner “would help move our city forward, improve relations between our officers and neighborhoods, and bring us closer to. healing of division in our community.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement, “This ruling ends the criminal review of the interaction, but it does not address the divisions in our community caused by a heartbreaking incident like this.”
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.