The city of South Bend will examine its Police Department’s use of force, body camera regulations and other policies after the fatal shooting of a black man by a white officer, mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said this week.
How South Bend police officers are trained and diversity efforts in hiring city residents also will be examined, he said.
“We’re going to initiate a process — open to the public — where each of those policies will be looked at and, if necessary, be revised in accordance with best practices based on national expertise and based on community input,” Buttigieg said during a news conference. “We need to engage our Board of Public Safety for a process that will invite community members to not only learn about, but shape, many of the policies that guide our department.”
Buttigieg, 37, has been criticized by some in the city following Eric Logan’s June 16 death. Police have said the 54-year-old Logan was armed with a knife when he approached Sgt. Ryan O’Neill and that O’Neill shot him. Prosecutors investigating have said the shooting was not recorded by the officer’s body camera. O’Neill is on paid administrative leave.
Buttigieg cut his campaigning short last month to return to South Bend and address the shooting. This week, he told reporters that he wrote to the U.S. Department of Justice inviting officials there to have a “dialogue with us about any ways they can be helpful to the community.”
He also reiterated that he supports a prosecutor’s decision to refer the case to an outside investigator in order to make sure “it gets the right look.”
But Buttigieg is receiving pushback from police. South Bend’s Fraternal Order of Police asked the mayor to recuse himself from decisions related to the investigation this week.
“Mayor Buttigieg has repeatedly shown that he’s more concerned about boosting his own presidential political campaign than ensuring a fair investigation about an incident where a veteran police officer was forced to defend himself when a dangerous felon attacked him with an eight-inch hunting knife,” the organization’s president, Harvey Mills, wrote in a release. “On a national TV debate, the mayor called our entire police force racist while another candidate insisted that Buttigieg fire the police chief. Since this incident is now part of the accusations and political posturing of presidential politics, Mayor Buttigieg must do the right thing and recuse himself from any further decisions related to this matter.”
Buttigieg said this week that he was not calling each police officer racist, but added that “if any officer is consciously racist they should show themselves the door, right away.”
“Police officers doing the right thing are the ones with the most to gain,” he said. “We will always support police officers who do the right thing. I take no sides in the handling of this particular case at a time when it’s not even come to the administration yet for review of any discipline issues.”
Logan was shot after O’Neill responded to a call about a suspicious person going through vehicles, a prosecutor investigating the case has said. O’Neill spotted Logan leaning inside a car. When confronted, Logan approached O’Neill with a 6- to 8-inch knife raised over his head, the prosecutor said. O’Neill fired twice, with the other shot hitting a car door.