The Indianapolis police officer who shot and killed Dreasjon “Sean” Reed after a high-speed chase has filed a defamation lawsuit against the NFL for referring to the case as police misconduct in comparison with other civil rights figures killed by police.
This has piqued the interest of both “Back The Blue” supporters and those yelling “Defund The Police.” Former police officers have joined the conversation in the hopes of effecting change.
De’Joure Mercer, the officer, filed the complaint Monday in federal Southern District of Indiana court. The lawsuit argues that the NFL purposely misconstrued the context of the case in media posts to push further a campaign intended to “honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct, and social justice heroes.”
The NFL recently launched a “social responsibility campaign” to compensate for demographic losses by aligning the league with “certain socio-political agendas and viewpoints.”
The lawsuit also attempts to debunk claims suggested by the NFL that Reed’s case is similar to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
“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,” Mercer’s lawyers write in the complaint. “This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts.”
On May 6, 2020, Mercer shot and killed Reed after a vehicle chase turned into a foot pursuit near West 62nd Street and Michigan Road. According to the lawsuit, Reed stole a gun, discharged it “blindly into buildings,” and then posted a video of his actions online. Authorities later discovered that Reed had live-streamed parts of his fatal encounter with police on May 6, 2020.
Although the NFL did not mention Mercer by name, he described his grievance with the actions of the NFL as “of and concerning” him personally, and he has since faced hostility from community members, friends, and even family members.
“Mercer’s friends, family, and acquaintances, as well as the general community in Indianapolis, understood the NFLE’s Publications to convey false accusations specifically about Mercer,” the lawsuit alleges. “In fact, several of Mercer’s friends asked him about the accusations made in the NFLE’s Publications.”
Mercer is asking for a jury trial as well as “substantial compensatory damages.” A grand jury announced in November that it would not bring a criminal indictment against Mercer.
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