De’Joure Mercer, a black law enforcement officer with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, has just launched a lawsuit against the NFL due to an advertisement from last year, wherein the league used his likeliness to suggest that the officer was a contributor to “systemic racism” after shooting a black man.
The attorney for Mercer, Guy A. Relford, stated that his client had been misrepresented in various materials for the NFL’s advertisement campaign, which was presumably designed to honor “victims of police misconduct,” “victims of systemic racism,” and “social justice heroes.”
The advertisement campaign featured nearly 90 black men and women who passed away during various interactions with law enforcement; these individuals included Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner, and George Floyd.
In addition, another name mentioned in the ad was Dreasjon Reed, who was shot by Mercer after a high speed car chase.
Relford argued that the NFL’s choice of advertisement easily “gives rise to the inference, implication, and imputation” that Mercer apparently committed misconduct while following through on his law enforcement duties during his encounter with Reed on May 6.
The attorney also added that such inferences, implications, and imputations are completely false, as his client “committed no such acts.”
In another statement, Relford also noted that the purpose behind the NFL campaign is important, but it does not justify the mischaracterization of the case involving Mercer and Reed.
Instead, Relford insisted that his client is “a hero,” given that he was able to track down an extremely dangerous criminal long wanted by the police; moreover, Reed posed a threat to residents across Indianapolis.
“[Mercer] put his life on the line and was nearly killed in that effort,” Relford continued, adding that his client was fully “exonerated” following “an exhaustive investigation” into the circumstances leading to the passing of Reed. Consequently, for the NFL to even “suggest” that Mercer is involved in racist and/or police misconduct is completely “unacceptable,” “defamatory,” and “false.”
“What happened here has nothing to do with racism,” Relford said pointedly.
Relford noted that both he and his client are supportive of the NFL’s efforts to address various social justice issues, and he also observed that Officer Mercer has taken a stand for the numerous, numerous “good cops on duty across America.”
Moreover, Mercer is also “standing up” for his colleagues and his friends, as well as sending a clear message to the NFL: “Before you accuse a decorated police officer of misconduct in a national campaign, you had better get your facts straight.”
The incident with Mercer and Reed occurred in May 2020 after an intense vehicular chase, just weeks before the passing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In its aftermath, the incident was subjected to extensive investigation, and investigators across the state eventually made the determination that the suspect, Reed, fired two shots at Mercer in the final minutes of the pursuit. However, Reed’s family denies the outcome of this investigation.
On its part, the NFL choose Reed to be included amongst the “Say Their Stories” campaign on its Twitter platform in December. In addition, the NFL also observed that Reed as one of several individuals “being honored by players and coaches” throughout the NFL’s helmet decal program.