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NFL is hit with defamation lawsuit from Indianapolis cop cleared in fatal shooting

The NFL is being sued for defamation in federal court by an Indianapolis police officer who claims the league mischaracterized a suspect he shot and killed as a victim of ‘systemic racism.’

Officer De’Joure Mercer was cleared of any wrongdoing by Indianapolis police and a grand jury later declined to press charges against him over the 2020 killing of Dreasjon Reed, who was ultimately included in the NFL’s ‘Say Their Stories’ campaign last December. 

‘The (v)ideo gives rise to the inference, implication, and imputation that Mercer committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during the May 6 (e)ncounter with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd,’ read the complaint obtained by DailyMail.com. ‘This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts.’ 

In addition to being honored as a victim of racist police violence by the league in a video montage and on Twitter, Reed’s name was also chosen to appear on player helmet decals. 

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The NFL is being sued for defamation in federal court by an Indianapolis police officer who claims the league mischaracterized a suspect he shot and killed as a victim of 'systemic racism.' Officer De'Joure Mercer (pictured) was cleared of any wrongdoing by Indianapolis police and a grand jury later declined to press charges over the 2020 killing of Dreasjon Reed, who was ultimately included in the NFL's 'Say Their Stories' campaign last December

The NFL is being sued for defamation in federal court by an Indianapolis police officer who claims the league mischaracterized a suspect he shot and killed as a victim of ‘systemic racism.’ Officer De’Joure Mercer (right) was cleared of any wrongdoing by Indianapolis police and a grand jury later declined to press charges over the 2020 killing of Dreasjon Reed (left), who was ultimately included in the NFL’s ‘Say Their Stories’ campaign last December. An investigation found that Reed fired shots at Mercer during a foot pursuit on May 6, 2020, but an attorney for Reed’s family disputed this claim

In addition to being honored as a victim of racist police violence by the league in a video montage and on Twitter , Reed's name was also chosen to be inscribed on player helmets. However, Colts linebacker Matthew Adams was supposed to have Reed's name on his helmet, according to the NFL, but DailyMail.com could not find any proof that Adams actually did so

In addition to being honored as a victim of racist police violence by the league in a video montage and on Twitter , Reed’s name was also chosen to be inscribed on player helmets. However, Colts linebacker Matthew Adams was supposed to have Reed’s name on his helmet, according to the NFL, but DailyMail.com could not find any proof that Adams actually did so 

‘Say His Name: Dreasjon Reed,’ read a league tweet that included a picture of Reed. ‘Dreasjon is one of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program.’

Colts linebacker Matthew Adams was supposed to have Reed’s name on his helmet, according to the NFL, but DailyMail.com could not find any proof that Adams actually had a ‘Reed’ decal.  

Spokespeople for the NFL and the Colts did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. 

The filing also accused Colts owner Jim Irsay and the organization of failing to correct false information about the shooting. In fact, according to the filing, Chief Randal Taylor contacted Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich ‘and explained to him that Mercer committed no police misconduct in connection with the May 6 Encounter.’ 

Dreasjon 'Sean' Reed, 21, was shot dead while running from police as he streamed a video of the chase on Facebook Live in May of 2020

Dreasjon ‘Sean’ Reed, 21, was shot dead while running from police as he streamed a video of the chase on Facebook Live in May of 2020 

Mercer, a black man who was named the Northeast District’s ‘Officer of the Year’ in 2019, denies any wrongdoing while claiming the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts suggested otherwise in several online statements.

Mercer’s lawyer, Guy A. Relford, argued in the complaint that the NFL suggested his client ‘committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during the May 6 (e)ncounter with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd.’

An investigation found that Reed fired shots at Mercer during a foot pursuit on May 6, 2020, but an attorney for Reed’s family disputed this claim.

In November, a grand jury declined to indict Mercer, sparking a second wave of protests in Indianapolis following the first demonstrations in May of 2020.

Special Prosecutor Rosemary Khoury, who was appointed to review the criminal investigation, said the grand jury determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge the officer.

Events surrounding the shooting were broadcast in real time on Facebook by Reed, including comments by responding detective Tony Scott who is heard saying: ‘I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie’, an apparent reference to a closed-casket funeral.

A memorial commemorating Dreasjon 'Sean' Reed was set up after he was shot and killed

A memorial commemorating Dreasjon ‘Sean’ Reed was set up after he was shot and killed

Chief Taylor called the comments ‘unacceptable’ in May of 2020, adding that the officer received a suspension and was reassigned to another unit.

In the Facebook Live footage, Reed can be heard screaming before falling on the ground. Less than ten seconds later, 11 or 12 gunshots can be heard in rapid succession.

In a statement to a local Fox affiliate, Relford described his client as a hero. 

‘De’Joure Mercer is a hero,’ Relford said. ‘He tracked down a very dangerous criminal wanted by the police, who was a threat to the citizens of Indianapolis.

‘He put his life on the line and was nearly killed in that effort. He was completely exonerated after an exhaustive investigation into the death of Mr. Reed. For NFL Enterprises then to suggest he was involved in police or racist misconduct is totally false, defamatory and unacceptable. What happened here has nothing to do with racism.’

‘While we support NFL Enterprises’ efforts to address social justice issues, Officer Mercer is taking a stand for the many, many good cops on duty across America. He is standing up for his friends and colleagues and sending a message that before you accuse a decorated police officer of misconduct in a national campaign, you had better get your facts straight.’ 


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