Indianapolis, IN — Last week, after the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Dreasjon “Sean” Reed by police continued to make headlines and spark protests, the Indianapolis mayor announced the creation of new use-of-force policies and that the city's officers will have body cameras starting this summer.
The mayor has also asked the U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI to actively monitor the investigation. The community is still grappling to make sense of the chain of events, and the Facebook video recording the incident.
On May 12, YR Media interviewed family members, protesters and community leaders who gathered at the memorial site for Reed.
Jalen Easler, Sean Reed's cousin: "He had a purpose"
Jalen Easler says he spent almost every day with his cousin Reed and they were like best friends who both looked to each other for advice. He says one word of advice he wishes he would’ve stressed more is for his cousin to slow down, especially while driving. He says he would say the same to other young men as well to help prevent them from suffering similar fates.
“The best way is for you to slow down. If you’re moving fast, if you’re rushing anything, it’s just the biggest thing,” Easler said.
During Reed’s Facebook Live video recording, you can hear someone at the scene say, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie.” Easler says he’s never heard of an officer say something so cruel. He said, luckily Reed was on live, and if he wasn’t, none of the inappropriate conduct would have been heard by the public and protests possibly wouldn’t be happening.
“If not, they would’ve just killed my little cousin and it would’ve been nothing. They would’ve said whatever … If he wasn’t on live, none of this would've ever came about,” Easler said. “He had a purpose. He had a way bigger purpose than what he knew of.”
Easler said he asks one thing of people who are defending his cousin’s life and legacy, that they don’t argue with people who disagree.
“If you’re on this side, I just ask people, don’t argue with people who are on the opposite side because they feel how they feel and we feel how we feel, and we’re not going to change their opinion.”
Satchuel Cole, Indy 10 Black Lives Matter organizer
Satchuel Cole is one of the people helping lead young activists in their efforts around Reed’s case, and she has been an organizer with Indy10 Black Lives Matter for six years.
Cole says it’s so important for them to get involved with a cause like this because of how greatly they’re affected.
“It’s their world too. It’s their lives too … Young black males are dying at such a high rate right now and they’re incarcerated and it’s young black youth that are being targeted. So the more that the youth get involved, the more they can have a say in how their world is shaped and they’re doing a beautiful job of that.”
Jalen Sanders, protester: "There's no point of using any kind of force"
Jalen Sanders, a 22-year-old protestor, says he sees Reed's shooting as an execution.
“If they called the police chase off, I don’t see the whole point of being followed again,” Sanders said. “He’s a fleeing suspect, and it’s not like he was wanted for murder or any of that. … There’s no point of using any kind of force in that situation. Even if he was arrested, he would’ve still been here.”
Records show Reed was a former member of the U.S. Air Force and served for less than a year in 2017, according to the Associated Press.
Sanders said knowing this makes him worry for his own safety.
“I just think, is it my time next because I’m also in the military, but obviously if we don’t have our uniform, they don’t see anything different about us,” Sanders said. “I knew something like this could happen in Indy, but I didn’t think it would and knowing it was a friend and that I could be next, you know it’s been hurting.”
John Schmitz, candidate for Indiana House of Representatives: "Whatever it takes ... you've got to do something."
John Schmitz is a local businessperson and community leader running for election to represent District 97 in Indianapolis.
“This thing makes me sort of sick to my stomach because I see our youth not having enough activities to do in their communities and they get into a little bit of trouble, then they can’t get a job, and then they start going down that spiral staircase of something like this,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz also says police and civilians would probably have better interactions if police were in the neighborhoods more, which is something he says they were working on, but has been set back with incidents like this.
“If you know people in your neighborhood, they’re going to have a little more respect for you,” Schmitz said. “I just think there’s a lot of people who think the police are going to shoot them and this does not help, so we have to diffuse that. I think that comes from sitting down and breaking bread together, whatever it takes, small meetings, big meetings, but you’ve got to do something.”