Indianapolis police faced protests on Thursday after officers fatally shot two men and killed a pregnant pedestrian in three separate incidents just hours apart.
Police did not have footage of either shooting from body cameras or dash cameras, but they said the two men exchanged gunfire with officers. The pregnant woman was walking along an expressway ramp when an officer driving to work struck her with his vehicle.
Events surrounding the first shooting were livestreamed on Facebook, including comments by a responding detective that the police chief called “unacceptable”.
Protesters converged on the first shooting scene on Wednesday night, and dozens more gathered Thursday at the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis. Many wore face masks aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus and at times shouted, “No justice, no peace”.
Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) acknowledged that the “tragic” incidents had shaken the public’s trust, but promised that the department would conduct thorough, transparent investigations into all three deaths.
“We recognise and are saddened that this mutual trust, that we so value, has been eroded over the last 24 hours, but I remain steadfast in our commitment to be transparent with our community, not just today but throughout the entire process as we learn more about what happened last night,” he said during a news conference.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the man killed in the first shooting as Dreasjon Reed, 21, and the man killed later as McHale Rose, 19. Both men were African American.
The pregnant woman was identified as Ashlynn Lisby, 23. Lisby was white. Her fetus also did not survive.
Protests began after video of the events leading up to Reed’s shooting appeared on Facebook. The video shows him being pursued by police before incoherent shouting and popping sounds are heard during a later foot chase. Later, a male voice says, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie,” an apparent reference to a closed-casket funeral.
Taylor said Thursday that he was “aware of inappropriate comments made by an IMPD detective that was broadcast live on social media during the incident”. He said “immediate disciplinary action” would be pursued against the detective, who was responding to the shooting and was not present when it happened.
Reed’s father, Jamie Reed, said he’s seen the video of his son and was “crushed” by its contents.
“It just shows me that we’re not really being protected and served. We’re being hunted,” he told reporters at Thursday’s protest. “My son was a great son. I love him to death. He was just a typical young adult like anybody else. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Relatives said Reed, whose nickname was Sean, had recently left the US Air Force. Military records show he served less than a year, in 2017. Details of separations cannot be released under privacy rules.
Reed’s shooting happened around 6pm (22:00 GMT) Wednesday after a pursuit that began when officers, including Taylor, observed someone driving recklessly on Interstate 65, police said. The car chase and a subsequent foot chase were both captured on video, apparently by Reed.
Sean Reed was killed by Indianapolis PD. He was on Facebook Live and kept streaming after they shot him. You can hear officers mocking him as he lay dead: “Looks like it’s gonna be a closed casket, homie!” A detective then ends the stream while trying to hide his face. #seanreed pic.twitter.com/WviP3dmwCm
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) May 7, 2020
At one point after police stop pursuing him, Reed is heard laughing and cheering. “I’m not going to jail today!” he shouts.
Moments later, he appears unsure where he has driven and says in the recording, “Please come get me. Please come get me!”
Supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was going nearly 145 kph (90 mph). An officer later spotted the car on a city street being parked and then chased Reed on foot, said IMPD Assistant Police Chief Chris Bailey.
On video, shouting and popping sounds are heard, then Reed appears to drop his phone or collapse. More popping sounds are heard.
According to police, the officer first tried to use a stun gun, then shot Reed as they exchanged gunfire. Bailey said it appears that a gun found near Reed had been fired at least twice.
Protestors at Noon, outside of the City-County Building demanding action in the shooting death of Dreasjon Reed. pic.twitter.com/m28QykWMcA
— Darius Johnson (@DariusJohnsonTV) May 7, 2020
The officer who shot Reed is African American, The Indianapolis Star reported, and he has been placed on administrative leave.
The second shooting happened about eight hours later, as police investigated a burglary at an apartment complex. Police said a man armed with a rifle shot at four officers as they approached the apartment about 1:30am (05:30 GMT) Thursday. Police said officers returned fire, killing the man, later identified as Rose.
Taylor said the initial investigation suggests that Rose “may have made the call with the intention of initiating an ambush-style attack on the officers when they arrived”. He did not rule out the possibility that Reed’s earlier fatal police shooting may have spurred Rose’s actions, but said there was no evidence to confirm that.
Between those two shootings, Officer Jonathon Henderson, a 22-year veteran, struck Lisby with his vehicle. Police said Henderson requested help and rendered first aid to the woman. Lisby was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Greater Indianapolis NAACP said in a statement Thursday that it was monitoring information about both fatal police shootings.
“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,” said Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the NAACP branch.