An Indiana police officer has filed a lawsuit against the NFL in regards to social media posts the pro sports league shared last year that referenced “systemic racism” and a case the officer was involved in.
Indianapolis Metro Police Department officer De’Joure Mercer filed the suit, which cited a tweet posted by the NFL Twitter account that read, “Say His Name: Dreasjon Reed Dreasjon is one of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program.”
Mr Mercer fatally shot Reed weeks before George Floyd’s murder, whose death sparked a significant global movement for racial justice. It also prompted organisations such as the NFL to reflect on what they can do to add to advance the cause of racial justice.
Mr Mercer’s lawyer described his client as a “hero” in a statement published by Fox 59.
“He tracked down a very dangerous criminal wanted by the police, who was a threat to the citizens of Indianapolis,” the statement from Guy Relford continued. “He put his life on the line and was nearly killed in that effort.”
The lawyer went to say that Mr Mercer was “exonerated after an exhaustive investigation into the death of Mr Reed”, adding that the NFL’s tweet implying “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.”
Mr Mercer is believed to be aiming for a jury trial and a “substantial compensatory damages”.
The lawsuit was filed on 14 June. According to The Indy Star, Mr Mercer is a still working as a police officer.
The tweet from the NFL contained an image of Mr Reed, alongside a message from his mother Demetree Wynn that read, “He deserves justice. He was a human being, a son, and a friend. He is my son and I love him.”
According to The Indy Star, a grand jury opted to not bring criminal charges against Mr Mercer after he shot and killed Reed during an exchange on the intersection between West 62nd Street and Michigan Road at 6.16pm on 6 May 2020. He deployed his firearm after his Taser proved “ineffective”. Investigators said that Mr Mercer shot Mr Reed twice, a claim denied by Mr Mercer.
The shooting was captured on Facebook Live, and according to the news outlet, another officer, Steven Scott, is heard saying “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” a comment that Randal Taylor, chief of police called, “unacceptable” and that he would be reprimanded.
The Independent reached out to the NFL for comment.
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