Eric Logan's Family Files Lawsuit Against Officer and City of South Bend

The family of Eric Logan, a Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer involved and the City of South Bend, Indiana.

The lawsuit, which was filed on June 26, states that Sergeant Ryan O’Neill fatally shot Logan during an encounter on June 16 at approximately 3:33 a.m. O’Neill was responding to a report of a car burglary at the Central High Apartments when he encountered the 54-year-old father of seven hanging out of the driver’s side window. According to the lawsuit, O’Neill asked Logan if the vehicle was his, and Logan said it was. The officer, who did not activate his body camera, claimed Logan had a knife in his hand and was advancing towards him. Logan’s family has denied O’Neill’s claims and allege the officer shot Logan as he walked to his mother’s home following a family get together, HuffPost reported.

“I’ve known Eric for over 30 years,” Logan’s cousin, Vernado Malone, said during a press conference, according to WNDU. “He don’t break into cars. He don’t steal.” O’Neill did not attempt to de-escalate the situation and instead discharged his weapon twice, the lawsuit alleges. Logan was shot once in the right abdomen area.Within 10 minutes, six to seven police officers from the South Bend Police Department arrived on the scene. The lawsuit said that Officer Aaron Knepper did not wait for an ambulance to arrive on the scene and instead transported Logan in his squad car to Memorial Hospital, where Logan was pronounced dead.

“The misconduct… was objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others,” the lawsuit states. “In addition, the misconduct and excessive force, including use of deadly force… ‘shocks the conscience.’”

The lawsuit alleges that O’Neill’s actions violated Logan’s constitutional rights, including those under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. O’Neill’s conduct “created discriminatory effect by targeting Eric Jack Logan for police action based on his race.”It also claims that O’Neill’s actions that night were reflective of the policy and practice of the City of South Bend, making the city liable. The city is accused of failing to adequately investigate, punish, and discipline prior instances of similar misconduct. The suit noted that O’Neill was accused of making racist remarks by a fellow officer 11 years ago but was not disciplined in any way. Court documents first reported by The Young Turks show revealed that officers accused O’Neill of making racist and discriminatory comments in 2008.

David Newton, a then-lieutenant, filed an internal report with the Administrative Advisory board on behalf of trainee Kelly Hibbs. The report alleged that O’Neill made derogatory comments in front of other officers. Hibbs claimed he was uncomfortable speaking up over fears of retaliation, HuffPost reported.

O’Neill allegedly turned to Hibbs and asked, “Do you want to get some of that black meat?” when they saw a Black woman from their patrol car. Later, when they spotted a Black man walking with a white woman, O’Neill reportedly said, “Man, I hate seeing that, it makes me sick, that makes me want to throw up.”Newton claimed that another officer reported O’Neill making derogatory comments about Muslims and Arabic people.

O’Neill was placed on administrative leave following the fatal shooting. Logan’s family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are also demanding a trial. St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter announced on June 24 that he requested the shooting be investigated by a special prosecutor to determine if criminal charges will be filed, WNDU reported.

Logan’s shooting death prompted protests in South Bend. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential campaign, traveled back to his town to meet with his constituents. Buttigieg, who requested police officers be ordered to keep body cameras activated during encounters with civilians, issued a statement supporting Cotter’s announcement.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.