One of the Indianapolis police officers involved in the killing of an apparently unarmed Black man was not fired and instead given a slap on the wrist for cracking crass jokes about the shooting moments after it happened.
Dreasjon “Sean” Reed was live-streaming himself fleeing from police when the 21-year-old military veteran was shot from behind on May 6 in Indianapolis. Unbeknownst to the officers in pursuit, the video was still recording when they approached Reed’s dead body. One of them could be heard joking and mocking about Reed’s appearance after shooting him by saying that he will be having a “closed casket” funeral.
“Looks like it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” the detective said on the video, using arguably racially charged language to refer to Reed.
The Indianapolis Metro Police Department told the Daily Beast on Thursday that the detective had been suspended for “numerous days and has been reassigned to another unit.” However, the department declined to identify him or give any more details about the suspension over what it called “ongoing investigation and for safety purposes.”
There was immediately some suspicion about the cops’ story following the shooting. The combination of yet more violence against Black people by a police department dogged by accusations of racism along with officers mocking the death prompted the chant of “Murder, murder,” during a subsequent protest. “We need to see somebody go to prison,” protesters repeated in unison.
Police said Reed had a gun but there was no evidence of it existing other than their claim.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears has requested an independent prosecutor investigate the shooting in part because of the strained relationship his office has with Indianapolis’ Black community.
“Many people in the community have expressed concern about the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office playing a role in this investigation considering the close working relationship…with IMPD. Those concerns are only heightened because Chief Randy Taylor is a material witness in this case,” Mears told reporters the day after the shooting. “We believe it is important that an independent prosecutor enter the process now to ensure that they can provide an outside review throughout the investigation,” he added.
Footage of Reed’s killing in separate videos quickly went viral on social media.
First is the video of Reed running away from the police. Dozens of shots can be heard being fired as Reed flees. Before he starts running, Reed parks his car and can be heard pleading to someone, “Please come get me!”
Next came the video of cops heard joking and mocking his appearance after shooting him by saying that it will be a “closed casket” funeral.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Reed was driving up to 90 miles per hour when police began chasing him. However, police said they stopped their pursuit because the speeds could endanger others. But when an officer saw Reed’s car driving later on and got out of the police cruiser, that’s supposedly when Reed got out and began running, cops said.
This is America.