INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A longtime central Indiana prosecutor was on Thursday appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the fatal shooting of a black man by an Indianapolis police officer.
The appointment of Rosemary Khoury, a deputy prosecutor for Madison County, to probe the May 6 death of 21-year-old Dreasjon “Sean” Reed came one day after Reed’s mother and family attorneys called for the federal government to intervene and investigate his death. They said they don’t trust the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and believe it is trying to conceal information.
Khoury’s appointment comes at a time of nationwide protests over the treatment of black people by police following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while he pleaded for air.
Khoury, 51, said she “is up for the challenge” of investigating Reed’s death. She must determine whether or not the African American officer who shot Reed will be charged.
“Wherever the evidence takes me, I’m going to be completely open-minded and fair,” Khoury, who is black, told The Associated Press by phone.
“I’ll just follow the evidence wherever the evidence takes me,” she said.
She said she doesn’t know how long it will take to make a charging decision.
Khoury became a deputy prosecutor in 2009, and handled the prosecution of major felony cases, including murders, for years. Her current assignment is as the sole prosecutor for all city and town courts in Madison County, whose county seat is Anderson, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis.
Two days after Reed’s killing, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears asked a court to appoint a special prosecutor to probe the shooting. Mears said Police Chief Randal Taylor’s role as a material witness in the case “constitutes a conflict of interest” for the prosecutor’s office.
Police have said they began pursuing Reed after officers, including Taylor, saw someone driving recklessly on Interstate 65. Supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was going nearly 90 mph (145 kph), police said.
But an officer later spotted the car on a city street and chased Reed on foot. Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said Reed exchanged gunfire with the officer. Bailey said a gun found near Reed appeared to have been fired at least twice.
Days of protests followed Reed’s killing, which came hours before Indianapolis police officers fatally shot another black man, McHale Rose, 19, and an officer fatally struck a pregnant white woman with his car.
Swaray Conteh, one of the Reed family’s attorneys, said in a statement Thursday that officials had not informed them of Khoury’s appointment.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to find out about the appointment of Special Prosecutor Khoury on TV. We will look into it and respond in due course,” he said.
During a news conference Wednesday, Conteh and another family attorney insisted that Reed didn’t exchange gunfire with the officer who shot him. They pleaded for more witnesses to come forward and demanded the release of Reed’s autopsy report.
Conteh said the slow progress of the investigation and the family’s distrust of the police prompted them to seek federal involvement so a thorough, transparent investigation could be conducted.
“We want the federal government to intervene immediately. I think we’ll be satisfied if the FBI or the Justice Department gets involved,” Contey said after the news conference.