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IMPD shoots pepper balls at crowd during arrest at Sean Reed protest

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tensions are rising between police and protesters over the shooting death of Sean Reed.

Police say they arrested one person and were forced to shoot pepper balls into Saturday’s protest at 62nd Street and Michigan Road.

There have been several protests after Reed was shot and killed by police Wednesday after a chase. The pursuit was witnessed and the shots were heard by thousands on Facebook Live as the man streamed on the internet.

Protesters waved signs asking for justice as police watched the protesters from all sides. Tension built between the two groups, until it broke.

“At some point, IMPD engaged some of the demonstrators,” Indy 10 Black Lives Matter representative Jessica Louise said. “We locked arms in order to discourage arrest at that time. Another officer kicked a demonstrator in the ribs and another officer came with a gun dispelled either tear gas pellets or rubber bullets. Then we took cover.”

Accounts from protesters and police differ slightly on what happened. Protesters say the man who was arrested, 41-year-old Robert Bently, stepped onto a crosswalk outside of traffic, while police say he obstructed traffic and had disorderly conduct. Protesters say they discouraged Bently’s arrest, while police say the crowd closed in on the officers, creating an unsafe environment. Police say there were no injuries, while protesters say a woman was kicked in the ribs.

“There are a lot of things that are up for interpretation,” Louise said. “But live video does not lie.”

Footage taken by Jalen Sanders shows police surround one man as one officer fires a paintball-like gun into the crowd. Those are presumably pepper balls that are described in the police report. Protesters drop to the ground, with their hands raised.

“Everyone hit the ground and put their hands up to show that we did not have any weapons and that we did not pose a threat,” Lousie said.

The incident left protesters shaken, but they continued to wave signs and shout, while making sure everyone knew what to do if they were hit by pepper balls, arrested or injured.

“We have planned for it,” Louise said. “We are also trained in de-escalation tactics, and so our hope is that it does not come to that. But if, for some reason, it does, we have the supplies to do some rapid response on site.”

Protesters said they would not discuss Sean Reed in interviews at the request of his family. Black Lives Matter says they will be releasing a statement Tuesday.

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