An Indianapolis police officer filed a lawsuit against the NFL after an advertisement it used last year appeared to suggest the officer contributed to “systemic racism” after he shot a black man.
Guy A. Relford, the lawyer for Indianapolis Metro Police Department Officer De’Joure Mercer, said his client was misrepresented in materials for an ad campaign to “honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct, and social justice heroes.”
The campaign featured 87 black men and women who died during interactions with police, including more notable names such as George Floyd, Eric Gardner, and Freddie Gray.
One of the names was Dreasjon Reed, a man whom Mercer (who is also black) fatally shot after a vehicular chase.
Relford said the ad “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.”
“This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts,” he added.
In a separate statement, the attorney recognized the importance of the campaign but said the NFL missed the mark with the Mercer-Reed case.
"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," Relford said. "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.”
He continued: "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."
Mercer shot Reed in May 2020, just before Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, after the two were involved in a vehicular chase that turned into a foot pursuit.
The incident was extensively investigated, and state investigators ultimately determined that Reed fired two shots at Mercer during the final moments of the pursuit. The attorneys representing Reed's family denied the allegation.
The NFL honored Reed as part of a "Say Their Stories" campaign in a December tweet. The NFL recognized Reed as "one of the many individuals being honored by players and coaches this season through the NFL’s helmet decal program."
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Original Author: Lawrence Richard