INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears did not file charges on 100 people who were arrested by police during the downtown riots on May 28 and 29, 2020.
Of the 28 who have been charged with a crime, the prosecutor believes there were others involved. “Absolutely, I think there are a couple of ongoing investigations specifically as it relates to the issue of violent crime,” Mears said.
For hours, rioters ripped through downtown seemingly at will. Within a few blocks of Monument Circle, almost nothing was spared. Fires were set inside of banks, and flaming dumpsters were rolled into the middle of Pennsylvania Street. The windows of restaurants and retail shops were smashed. Two people were killed, and liquor stores, pharmacies and restaurants were robbed. Many of the crimes committed were caught on smartphones, surveillance cameras or on live TV.
“It has also been helpful in us being able to determine who was peaceful and who was not so peaceful when we were making those charging decisions, who is a righteous target and who we should be prosecuting and who was down there protesting,” Mears said.
Of the nearly people charged, two face charges of murder; that includes the murder of Indianapolis businessman and former Indiana University football player Chris Beaty. Police arrested dozens of people during the riots, and Mears has caught a lot of heat for dropping the charges on 100 people.
“Anytime you are criticized for making a decision not to prosecute someone who is excising their constitutional rights, I think, it is important that we send a strong message to the community that we are always going to err on the side of people that are expressing themselves and for individuals that came downtown peacefully protesting. We have a responsibility to protect that right to protest,” the prosecutor said.
The violent weekend ended when Malik Muhammed helped lead a group of protestors up Meridian Street to the Governor’s Residence at East 46th Street. Muhammed now faces a charge of attempted murder of a police officer in Oregon and for throwing a Molotov cocktail during a protest in September. Muhammed has not been charged with a crime in Indianapolis, but investigators are double-checking their video.
“It is not just us, and it is not just the local law enforcement partners. Obviously at the federal level, there are a number of people interested in those cases, to try and figure out ‘Was this a concerted effort nationally?’” Mears said.
According to the prosecutor’s office, of the 28 people charged with a crime during the Indianapolis riots, 12 cases are resolved, 13 are pending in the court system, and three were dismissed.