An Indianapolis Metro Police Officer has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League over a campaign that implied he criminally killed a Black man in May 2020.
Dreasjon Reed was one of 87 people that the NFL honored as part of the "Say Their Stories" campaign. Reed was shot and killed by Officer De'Joure Mercer following a vehicle and foot chase.
According to Indy Star, Reed fired several shots at Mercer during the chase, a claim that Reed's family disputes. A grand jury declined to file criminal charges in the case, and Mercer remains on the force.
Mercer's lawsuit claims that the NFL's campaign implied that he "committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts" during the incident.
"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 lawyer, Guy A. Relford, said in a statement to WXIN. "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."
Mercer is seeking "substantial compensatory damages" and has requested a jury trial.
"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's statement continued.
The NFL has not commented on the case.