Federal judge: Parts of lawsuit filed on behalf of Dreasjon Reed may proceed to trial

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Editor’s note: This article has been updated

Parts of a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a slain Indianapolis man who was shot by police last year after a vehicle and foot pursuit may move ahead to trial.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an order Thursday granting in part and denying in part summary judgment for the defendants in a case brought by Demetree Wynn, the mother of Dreasjon Ire Reed.

In May 2020, Reed was shot and killed by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer De’Joure Mercer following a vehicle pursuit. Reed was streaming live on Facebook during the police chase and when he exited his vehicle after stopping the car.

Accounts from IMPD and Reed’s family differ on what happened next.

IMPD has maintained that Reed was first struck by a taser deployed by Mercer before being fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire during the foot chase.

Attorneys for Reed’s family, however, have insisted that he didn’t exchange gunfire with Mercer before the officer shot him.

Special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury, appointed to oversee the investigation, announced in August 2020 that she had requested that a grand jury be impaneled to handle the final stage of that investigation and consider whether an indictment should be brought against Mercer. The grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officer.

Wynn’s federal suit  seeks redress in connection with her son’s death and names the city of Indianapolis, Mercer, IMPD Chief of Police Randal Taylor and IMPD Deputy Chief of Police Kendale Adams as defendants.

Magnus-Stinson’s Thursday ruling in Demetree Wynn v. City of Indianapolis, Randal Taylor, Kendale Adams, and De’Joure Marquise Mercer, 1:20-cv-1638 will allow parts of Wynn’s suit to go to trial, including a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim against Mercer in the shooting, state battery claims against Mercer and the city, as well as state negligent infliction of emotional duress (NIED) and wrongful deaths claims against the city.

The 58-page federal order also found the defendants were entitled to judgment on the Fourth Amendment excessive force claims on Mercer’s use of a taser, a federal claim that Reed received inadequate medical care, federal claims against the city concerning an alleged policy of excessive force and alleged failure to train and state wrongful death and NIED claims against Taylor and Adams.

Magnus-Stinson’s order also denied as moot a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim against Mercer related to the shooting, state battery claims against Mercer and the city and a state NIED claim against the city.

The case is set for a final pretrial conference on May 26 and for trial June 20.

“The parties are encouraged to work with the Magistrate Judge to reach a resolution of this case short of trial,” Magnus-Stinson wrote in concluding the order.

Attorney Adam Willfond, counsel for the defendants, declined to comment on the ruling.

Fatima T. Johnson, one of the attorneys representing the Reed family, told IL in an email that “they are satisfied with the court’s decision and are looking forward to trial.”

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