Pete Buttigieg Faces Heat for South Bend Police Shooting

Pete Buttigieg

(AP) — The fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer in South Bend, Indiana, sparked community outrage and a federal lawsuit, and has taken its toll on the city’s mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Eric Jack Logan, a 54-year-old father of seven, was shot to death South Bend police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill in the early morning of Sunday June 16, prompting a heated town hall meeting at which Buttigieg put his presidential bid on hold to address the issue.

“I just think it’s my job,” Buttigieg told WNDU, a local NBC affiliate. “I don’t know if it’s smart or not, I don’t know if it’s strategic or not, but it’s my city.”

Buttigieg faced a litany of accusations of bias not only for the shooting, but also for an alleged lack of diversity in South Bend’s police force. He had previously faced hear for firing the city’s black police chief soon after he became mayor.

“If anyone who is on patrol is shown to be a racist, or to do something racist in a way that is substantiated, that is their last day on the street,” Buttigieg said, facing heckling during the town hall.

The South Bend Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36 posted a letter on its Facebook page criticizing Buttigieg for his handling of the killing, allegedly for the purpose of furthering his campaign.

“For Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to make disparaging remarks such as ‘all police work and all American life takes place in the shadow of racism,’ is divisive,” the FOP order executive board states in its letter. “Mayor Buttigieg’s focus on this incident is solely for his political gain and not for the health of the city he serves.”

The shooting occurred at about 3:33 a.m. on June 16, after a report that an unknown person was breaking into cars, according to the federal complaint against the city and Sgt. O’Neill.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the 7-page complaint state: “Defendant O’Neill was accused of making racist comments by a fellow patrolman eleven years ago and it did not result in any discipline against Defendant O’Neill.

“Despite the City of South Bend issuing body cameras to be worn by all of its patrol officers just a year ago, at a cost of $1.5 million, there is curiously no video of Sgt. O’Neill’s interaction with Eric Jack Logan.”

According to the complaint, South Bend police were notified at 3:27 a.m. that someone was breaking into cars, and O’Neill radioed to dispatch at 3:30:12 a.m. that he was on the way to the Central High Apartments, which he reached less than 30 seconds later.

The complaint continues: “Defendant O’Neill reportedly saw an individual’s legs and buttocks hanging out of the driver’s side window in a car and questioned him whether the car belonged to him.

“Defendant O’Neill claims the individual was Eric Jack Logan and Eric responded ‘yes.’

“Defendant O’Neill further claims that Eric had a knife in his hand and was advancing toward him. Defendant O’Neill did not attempt to de-escalate the situation and immediately chose to draw his service weapon and pointed it at Eric.

“Defendant O’Neill discharged his weapon twice and shot Eric once in the right abdomen area.”

O’Neill called in “shots fired” at 3:33:09, and requested an ambulance. Six or seven other officers arrived within 11 seconds, the complaint states. At 3:35:14, Officer Aaron Knepper decided to take Logan to a hospital in his squad car rather than wait for an ambulance. He did so, and Logan was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

Logan’s family seeks damages for excessive deadly force, violations of equal protection, emotional distress, failure to train and supervise, and municipal liability.

They are represented by Brian Coffman of Chicago and Trent McCain of Merrillville, Ind.

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