An Indianapolis man was fatally shot by police after a high-speed chase in an incident that appeared to have been broadcast on Facebook Live, sparking outcry and protests throughout the night.
More than 100 people from the community gathered at the scene of the shooting to express their outrage Wednesday night, chanting “No justice, no peace!” as they demanded answers from police about the latest officer-involved death. Protestors continued demonstrating Thursday, with dozens marching through the streets before congregating outside of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.
“We deserve better,” one community activist told The Indianapolis Star. “I am disgusted, horrified, tired, and angry.”
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said the incident began around 6 p.m. when officers began pursuing a man who they observed to be driving recklessly. After the driver exited the car, an officer chased him on foot before gunfire was “exchanged” at around 6:14 p.m., police said in a press release, without revealing who fired first. In the unconfirmed Facebook video of the incident, at least 13 or 14 gunshots can be heard.
In another video obtained by The Indianapolis Star, a detective who arrived after the shooting can be heard saying: “Looks like it’s going to be a closed casket, homie.”
“We are aware of inappropriate comments made by an IMPD detective” on the live stream, Indianapolis MPD Chief Randal Taylor said at a Thursday press conference. “Let me be clear: These comments are unacceptable and unbecoming of our police department.”
While Taylor did not confirm the authenticity of the Facebook live stream, he did stress he was “concerned with the things on social media,” stating he thinks that some comments online “lack trust as to what occurred.”
Authorities have not yet identified the name of the driver but said he and the officer who shot him were both black men. Family members identified the driver to local media outlets as 21-year-old Dreasjon “Sean” Reed. The officer who fired the fatal shot has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
“I feel like to lose a life, especially at a young age, there’s never going to be justice,” Jazmine Reed, the 21-year-old’s sister, told WISH, adding that her family watched the pursuit and shooting on Facebook as it happened. “Cause he’s gone—there’s never justice for that. Even if somebody was to get time or whatever for it, it’s never going to be justice because he’s never coming back.”
The sister said she drove to the scene after watching the video, not knowing whether her brother was still alive. “I shouldn’t have to bury my little brother,” she added.
The Indianapolis MPD said the incident began after two officers saw a Toyota Corolla being driven “recklessly.” They followed the driver in unmarked cars and asked for assistance as they said the vehicle continued “at a high rate of speed” and the operator was “disobeying all traffic signals” and nearly hit another car.
In the Facebook video, titled “High-speed case lol,” Reed, who is shirtless, appears nervous as he speaks to his 2,000 viewers and points his camera to show the moving police cars behind him.
“Almost lost him y’all!” he says. “Almost got rid of his ass!”
At one point, he appears to pull over and stop his car. Authorities say the driver disregarded “the officers’ verbal commands to stop” and ran out of the car, prompting an officer to chase him on foot.
“I’m on 62nd and Michigan,” Reed says in the video, just before exiting the vehicle. “I just parked... I’m gone.”
He added: “Please come get me! Please come get me! Please come get me!”
Reed can then be heard running for approximately 30 seconds, as a voice behind him yells: “Stop! Stop!”
“Fuck you,” Reed replies.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said during a Wednesday news conference that the officer first used his taser, but it’s unclear if it worked and is not seen on the purported video from the scene.
“It is believed at this time that shots were fired by both the officer and the suspect,” Bailey said.
In the video, Reed appears to start screaming before collapsing on the ground. About eight seconds later, 11 or 12 gunshots can be heard in rapid succession. The live stream did not show Reed talking about a gun or firing a weapon.
After a brief pause, two more shots can be heard as the camera faces the sky while the opening lyrics of Young Dolph’s “16 Zips” appears to be playing off the phone. By the end of the gunfire, more than 4,000 people had tuned in to watch the live stream, according to the Star.
Bailey said Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after and pronounced the driver dead at the scene. The officer was uninjured.
Taylor on Thursday stated that a “loaded gun” was recovered at the scene that appeared to have been fired twice and that it belonged to the driver. He added that disciplinary action will be taken against the detective who made the “casket” comment.
After the incident, the Facebook Live video, which has been widely shared on social media, was removed from the victim’s account, Bailey said. Bailey added that authorities are aware of Facebook videos.
“Both the officers and the detectives have done their due diligence in preserving that evidence through the proper legal channels, and if it’s associated that there’s information on there that’s appropriate for the investigation, they’ll utilize it,” he said.
Taylor added Thursday the police officers involved in the shooting were not wearing body cameras, but he has no reason to believe they acted inappropriately. But after the press conference, dozens of protesters took to the streets demanding more police action, shouting “all lives matter,” as drivers stopped their cars and put their fists out their windows in solidarity.
About eight hours after that shooting, Indianapolis police fatally shot another man during an investigation into a burglary at an apartment complex. Authorities said that around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, four officers responded to the apartment and were immediately fired upon by a man with a rifle.
All four officers “returned fire” and hit the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, police said in a news release.
In response to both incidents, Taylor stressed at a Thursday press conference that he will provide residents with “the truth whether we are right or wrong.”
“We have long talked about the kind of police department we want to be—one that serves with the community, that's not policed at—a police department that is trusted, one where every resident feels a comfortable calling,” Taylor said. “We recognize and are saddened that this mutual trust that is so valued has been eroded over the last 24 hours.”
Investigators are now conducting a separate investigation into that shooting, and police said there’s evidence the victim called 911 with the intent of ambushing the responding officers.
“Our hearts this morning are with the families who lost loved ones during these tragic events. All of us are trying to make a new normal in an un-normal time. Incidents like these do not help restore normalcy to our community,” Chrystal Ratcliffe, the president of the NAACP branch in Indianapolis said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on Thursday called for a “prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation” into Reed’s death.
“Whether someone is unarmed or armed, compliant or resistant, police officers should be properly trained in de-escalation tactics and turn to the use of force only as a last resort, not a first option,” the statement read.