Officer Who Fatally Shot Black Man in South Bend Resigns
|thenorthstar||Jul 19, 2019|
The white police officer who fatally shot a Black man in June has resigned, officials said on July 15.
The South Bend Police Department confirmed in a tweet that Sergeant Ryan O'Neill resigned from the department and handed his resignation letter to Chief Scott Ruszkowski.
“I can confirm that Sergeant Ryan O'Neill resigned from the South Bend Police Department effective immediately. I am in receipt of his resignation letter. I will have no further comment at this time,” the statement read.
O'Neill shot and killed Eric Logan, 54, after he was allegedly found breaking into cars, the Associated Press previously reported. O’Neill claimed Logan approached him while still carrying a knife that the officer had instructed him to put down, which led O’Neill to shoot at the 54-year-old man. However, the officer was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting and it is unclear what led to the shooting, the AP reported.
Following his death, Logan’s family filed a lawsuit against O’Neill and the City of South Bend on June 26. The lawsuit accused O’Neil of not wearing his body camera despite the city’s requirement that all patrol officers must wear them while on duty. “The misconduct described in this Count was objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others. In addition, the misconduct and excessive force, including use of deadly force, described in this Count ‘shocks the conscience,’” the lawsuit read.
Logan’s lawyer, Brian Coffman, told WSBT O’Neill’s resignation is "somewhat questionable,” stating that he does understand the reasoning as to why he decided to step down.
"We don't know what motivated Mr. O'Neill to resign today but we do know and will find out very soon what actually happened that early morning on June 16," Coffman told the news station.
South Bend Fraternal Order of Police President Harvey Mills said in a statement to WSBT that O’Neill resigned due to the stress related to the national media attention the shooting caused, and he wants to focus “on these challenges, as well as assist his wife with their three children, one of whom is a newborn.”
"Sergeant O'Neill did his job and was forced to defend his own life from a convicted felon who was armed with an eight-inch hunting knife," Mills said in a statement to the news station. "We're confident that the investigation into the shooting will determine that the action he took was justified based on the law and his training; however, job related stress, the lawsuit, national media attention, and hateful things said on social media have been difficult for O'Neill and his young family."
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in a statement to the news station they are going to continue to wait for the results of the investigation. A special prosecutor appointed Richard Hertel from Ripley County to investigate the shooting, ABC News previously reported.
“Our efforts to strengthen trust between law enforcement and community members continue. We will await results of the independent criminal investigation, and apply any lessons learned to our work on the future of the Police Department and the community,” Buttigieg said in a statement, according to WSBT. Since the shooting, Buttigieg, a Democratic candidate for the 2020 election, has received criticism for not being aggressive enough in establishing rules to stop police misconduct from occurring in the city of South Bend, the AP previously reported. During a July 4 cookout event in Iowa, an attendee suggested that Buttigieg should “tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crimes and doing drugs,” in response to the shooting on June 16.
“Sir, I think racism is not going to help us get out of this drama,” Buttigieg responded, according to Politico.
The attendee then responded that his suggestion had “nothing to do with race.”
“The fact that a Black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism,” Buttigieg said. “It is evidence of systemic racism and with all due respect sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job too. It is a smear on law enforcement.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.