INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A grand jury will decide whether to charge an Indianapolis police officer in the May 6 shooting death of Dreasjon Reed.
A grand jury is essentially another layer in a criminal investigation. Here in Indiana, grand juries are made up of six people and one alternate juror. The proceedings are secret and one-sided.
Rosemary Khoury, the special prosecutor assigned to the Reed case, will ask a grand jury to decide whether to file charges against an Indianapolis police officer.
For a look inside grand juries, I-Team 8 asked former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi for some insight.
“It is a completely, totally secret proceeding. What goes on there is 100% secret, and so the prosecutor can present whatever evidence they want to the grand jury and the grand jurors really don’t have any sort of right or ability to look outside of what is being presented to them for that decision,” said Brizzi.
A Marion County grand jury indicted two Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers earlier this month for the violent arrest of two women during downtown protests.
Brizzi says neither the defense nor the accused have any rights to defend themselves in these proceedings.
“And the prosecutor is in the courtroom with a gallery of potential grand jurors, and there is a judge and the prosecutor gets to ask questions, and the judge can ask questions and then the prosecutor can literally pick the six, plus the alternate from the group,” said Brizzi.
The grand jury won’t decide on guilt but instead whether there is enough evidence for criminal charges in the May 6 fatal shooting of Reed by police.
Reed was fatally shot after a foot chase with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers into a grassy area near the intersection of West 62nd Street and Michigan Road on the evening of May 6. Reed made a Facebook Live post of a police-vehicle chase that preceded the shooting in the grassy area.
The officer was later identified as Officer Dejoure Mercer.
IMPD says Mercer and Reed exchanged gunfire. Reed was struck. He was pronounced dead on the scene. The IMPD chief has said ballistic evidence shows Reed fired two shots. Reed’s family has contended he did not shoot at the officer.
The grand jury can also issue a “no bill” verdict, which means the jurors don’t believe there was enough evidence of a possible crime.
“Especially if you have a bunch of contradictory witness statements and some contradictory evidence and that sort of thing — look, people are smart, people that are listening to the evidence and if the evidence is presented fairly and they get to ask questions, the grand jurors get to asked questions of the witnesses and that sort of thing. Often times the result can be the right result,” said Brizzi.
The special prosecutor has not said if a grand jury has already been selected, but once the jury is selected, they have up to six months to come up with a decision.
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