With the 2020 presidential race in full swing, many Democratic hopefuls have been faced with the question on where they stand on police brutality. Candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been forced to confront the topic head-on as the nation watches after a Black man was killed by police in his town earlier this month.
Now, the family of that Black man — Eric Logan — has filed a lawsuit to demand justice in a topic that is sure to come up as Buttigieg participates in the Democratic debate in Miami on Thursday night.
Logan was shot and killed June 16 when Sgt. Ryan O’Neill responded to a call that someone was breaking into cars. O’Neill, who later claimed Logan threatened him with a knife, did not activate his body camera during the encounter, which is against city policy. Following the shooting, officers received a reminder about the policy regarding body cameras, which South bend police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said requires officers to “activate them during all work-related interactions with civilians.”
On Wednesday, Logan’s family filed a lawsuit against the City of South Bend and O’Neill. The family claimed O’Neill violated Logan’s civil rights in several ways, including using excessive force with willfulness and reckless indifference and subjecting him to “unlawful treatment on the basis of race.” The lawsuit also blamed the city for not properly training, supervising, controlling and disciplining officers. The family alleged the city also violated the constitutional rights of residents on a “regular basis” by rarely investigating wrongdoing by officers.
When news broke of the shooting, Buttigieg canceled several campaign stops to return to South Bend. In a now viral exchange with protesters upon his return, Buttigieg was met with hostility and distrust. Logan’s brother, Tyree Bonds, also had some words for the mayor.
“I’m mad because my brother died,” Bonds said. “People are getting tired of you letting your officers do whatever they want to do.”
During a town hall on Sunday, Buttigieg was also met with skepticism as he tried to assure residents that he would not tolerate racism on the police force.
“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 claimed.
On Wednesday, he found himself defending the choice to attend the first Democratic debate on Sunday night despite the evident mistrust of his local constituents.
“We have to do many things at once,” Buttigieg said. “But this is a moment when my community is in anguish and we’ve been on the ground working with community leaders, working with community members so the facts can emerge, but also recognizing that the anguish over what has happened is not only about a family that has lost a loved one, the family of Eric Logan, but also this ties into a larger set of issues.”