A longtime central Indiana prosecutor was appointed Thursday as the special prosecutor who will investigate the fatal May 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, saying they don’t trust the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and believe it is trying to conceal information.
Khoury’s appointment to oversee the investigation 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 May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he pleaded for air.
Khoury, 51, said she has accepted the appointment and “is up for the challenge” of investigating Reed’s death. She will be tasked with determining whether or not the African American officer who shot Reed will face charges in his killing, which came during a foot chase that followed a police pursuit of a vehicle driving recklessly along on interstate.
“Wherever the evidence takes me I’m going to be completely open minded and fair in the process. That’s what the people can expect to get from me, is fairness,” Khoury told The Associated Press in telephone interview. “I’ll just follow the evidence wherever the evidence takes me.”
Khoury, who is black, said that if her investigation finds that “there’s sufficient evidence to proceed with charges then I will, but if it takes me in the opposite direction I’ll go there.”
She said she doesn’t know how long it will take her to review the evidence and make a charging decision.
Khoury, who became a deputy prosecutor post in 2009, said she handled felony prosecutions of major felony cases, including murders, for several years. Her current assignment is as the sole prosecutor for all city and town courts in Madison County, where county seat is in 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 Reed’s fatal shooting. He cited Police Chief Randal Taylor’s role as a material witness in the case, saying that “constitutes a conflict of interest” for the prosecutor’s office.
Police have said they began pursuing Reed after officers, including Chief 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 before it was parked, and the officer then chased Reed on foot. Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said Reed had exchange 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.
Messages seeking comment on Khoury’s appointment were left Thursday for attorneys for Reed’s family. Those attorneys held a news conference Wednesday where they insisted that Reed didn’t exchange gunfire with the officer who shot him, as police have said. They also pleaded for more witnesses to come forward and demanded the release of Reed’s autopsy report.
Swaray Conteh, one of the family’s attorneys, noted that nearly a month had passed since Mears had requested a special prosecutor. He said that slow process and the family’s distrust of the police prompted them to seek federal involvement to investigate Reed’s shooting so that 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 that way,” Contey said after the news conference.