A black Indianapolis police officer is suing the National Football League over videos and tweets he says imply he shot and killed a suspect because of “systemic racism.”
“Indianapolis Metro Police Department Officer De’Joure Mercer filed the lawsuit in the federal Southern District of Indiana Court” Monday, Fox News reported, “over video and tweets the league published last year” as part of the “Say Their Stories” campaign “claiming that a Black man he shot and killed died because of ‘systemic racism.'”
The lawsuit centers around the NFL’s decision to honor Dreasjon Reed — “one of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program.”
According to Indianapolis police officers who spoke with the Indianapolis Star, officers observed Reed driving erratically and initiated a vehicular pursuit. A sergeant for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department eventually called off the chase because of “how fast Reed was driving,” but Mercer later “saw Reed driving eastbound on 62nd Street before parking at a business. Both the officer and Reed left their cars, and a foot pursuit began.”
“Police said there was a confrontation between the two … that involved an exchange of gunfire, and the officer called in the shooting at 6:16 p.m,” according to the Indianapolis Star. “Police said the officer used his service weapon after a Taser deployment was ‘ineffective.’ Fifteen casings were recovered at the scene. Police said they believe a weapon found at the scene belonged to Reed.”
Reed’s death sparked a series of protests in Indianapolis, and the NFL featured Reed as one of 87 “victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct, and social justice heroes.”
Mercer, however, says that “materials the league published imply 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,'” per Fox.
“De’Joure Mercer is a hero. He tracked down a very dangerous criminal wanted by the police, who was a threat to the citizens of Indianapolis,” Mercer’s attorney, Guy A. Relford said in a statement to media about the suit. “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,” Relford noted.
The NFL launched the “Say Their Stories” campaign ahead of the 2020-2021 season as part of its ramped-up social justice endeavors. The goal was, according to the league’s announcement, “to continue the theme of social justice, protest, and outreach that has resonated throughout the nation, and enact fundamental change by amplifying the names and stories of victims of police brutality to drive the narrative forward.”
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