SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Not everyone is questioning the actions of a South Bend police sergeant who was involved in last month’s fatal officer-involved shooting.
“In light of self-defense law and police training, this shooting was completely justified,” said Harvey Mills, president of South Bend Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 36 in a recorded statement provided to the news media.
O’Neill is a 19-year veteran of the force who is married with one child and expecting a second.
The FOP on Monday set up a GoFundMe account on behalf of the family. In the first 24 hours, more than 150 donors contributed more than $5,600.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the page was removed from the GoFundMe site, with the FOP saying the removal was the result of "anti-police activists" lobbying the website.
"Shockingly, GoFundMe told us that they canceled the campaign because it was in support of a hate crime," Mills says, in part, in a release issued Tuesday evening. "This is fundamentally wrong, and I’m shocked that a company would accuse a police officer of a hate crime simply for defending himself from an armed attacker."
The GoFundMe page has since been replaced by a Fundly page where donors can support O'Neill's defense.
While O’Neill had a revolver and the suspect Eric Logan had a knife, the knife in question was of the "hunting" variety and 8 inches long. The FOP provided the media with a picture of a knife that was said to look like the one allegedly wielded by Logan.
“Police are taught to treat a knife as a deadly weapon, because a suspect armed with a knife within 21 feet of an officer is as much of a deadly threat as a suspect with a gun,” Mills said in his taped statement. “In this case, a suspect armed with an 8-inch hunting knife was less than 10 feet of the officer and refused multiple commands to drop the weapon. In light of self-defense law and police training, this shooting was completely justified.”
A written news release from the FOP claims the officer ordered Logan to drop the knife three separate times, but Logan continued to move toward O’Neill with the knife raised above his head.
The release states that O’Neill fired two shots just as the suspect “hurled” the hunting knife that hit and caused a minor injury to the forearm of O’Neill.
The release states that the suspect’s “erratic behavior appeared to be the result of drug intoxication” and that Logan had an active felony warrant on a probation violation that threatened to send him to prison for seven years.
The full release issued Monday with new information about the alleged attack by Logan can be found by clicking here.
The full release issued Tuesday about the removal of the GoFundMe page has been reproduced below:
Today, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #36 in South Bend, Indiana announced that its fundraising campaign in support of Sgt. Ryan O’Neill had been cancelled by GoFundMe. In less than a day, the campaign had already raised more than $5,000.
“Anti-police activists must have pressured GoFundMe into cancelling our campaign to help Sgt. Ryan O’Neill pay for his legal defense in a civil lawsuit filed against him,” Harvey Mills, South Bend FOP President said. “Shockingly, GoFundMe told us that they cancelled the campaign because it was in support of a hate crime. This is fundamentally wrong and I’m shocked that a company would accuse a police officer of a hate crime simply for defending himself from an armed attacker.”
The FOP announced a new campaign that is being run on another fundraising platform, Fundly. The Campaign can be accessed here: https://fundly.com/defend-officer-ryan-o-neill
Mills continued, “I find it truly offensive that GoFundMe would cancel our campaign to defend a police officer who hasn’t been accused of a crime while they freely allow violent groups like Antifa to raise money to support criminal acts that have been on the news recently.”