SB Fraternal Order of Police calls for Buttigieg recusal from police shooting decisions

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36 in South Bend has called for Mayor Pete Buttigieg to recuse himself from decisions related to the investigation of a recent police-involved shooting.

The shooting happened June 16, when 19-year veteran Sgt. Ryan O'Neill shot 54-year-old Eric Logan, who allegedly was rummaging through cars in the Central High Apartments parking lot and approached O'Neill with a knife.

“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 8-inch hunting knife,” South Bend FOP President Harvey Mills says in a release from the lodge. “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.”

The release from the lodge goes on to detail the shooting, reminding the public that Logan was a convicted felon and alleging that his "erratic behavior throughout the entire incident appeared to be the result of drug intoxication."

Mills says in the release that if Buttigieg wants to honor the oath he swore to "faithfully, impartially and diligently discharge the duties of the office of mayor," he must "recuse himself from this matter by taking no part in any decisions, conversations or other aspects of” the investigation into the matter.

The full release from the FOP has been reproduced below:

Today, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #36 in South Bend, Indiana called on Mayor Pete Buttigieg to fully recuse himself from all decisions related to the investigation of the June 16th incident where a police officer was forced to defend himself when a dangerous felon attacked him with an eight-inch hunting knife.

“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,” Harvey Mills, South Bend FOP President said. “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.”

In the dark morning hours of 3:30 AM on Sunday, June 16, Sergeant Ryan O’Neill, a 19-year veteran of the department, received a call about a man breaking into cars at an apartment complex near downtown. Sgt. O’Neill drove to the scene and observed a man, later identified as Eric Logan, with only his legs sticking out from the front seat of a car. Thinking the man may be the car’s owner, Sgt. O’Neill got out of his patrol car and asked the man if this was his car. The man claimed it was. However, when the man stood up, Sgt. O’Neill observed that his hand was bleeding, and a woman’s purse was halfway stuck in his clothing. When Sgt. O’Neill asked him about the purse, the six-foot-two suspect stood up and raised an eight inch hunting knife over his head and began moving directly toward the officer.

Sgt. O’Neill immediately began backing up and loudly ordered the suspect the drop the knife, three separate times. Instead of dropping the knife, the suspect continued to move toward Sgt. O’Neill. When Sgt. O’Neill ran out of room to retreat, he fired his duty weapon twice, hitting the suspect once -- just as the suspect hurled the hunting knife at him. The blade hit Sgt. O’Neill, causing minor injuries to his forearm.

The suspect remained standing but never answered any questions from the officer as to whether he’d been shot. The suspect’s erratic behavior throughout the entire incident appeared be the result of drug intoxication. Sgt. O’Neill coordinated the medical response and worked with other officers, who rather than wait for EMS, rushed the suspect to the hospital in a police car.

Mills continued, “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. In this case, the suspect armed with an eight-inch hunting knife was less than 10 feet from the officer and refused multiple commands to drop the weapon. In light of self-defense law and police training, this shooting was completely justified.”

According to official court records available to the public, the suspect armed with the eight-inch hunting knife had an active felony warrant for violating his probation at the time of the shooting and likely faced being returned to prison for the remaining seven years of a previous prison sentence if Sgt. O’Neill had arrested him. The suspect also had several previous criminal convictions on his record, including drug and weapons offenses.

“Mayor Buttigieg swore an oath to ‘faithfully, impartially, and diligently discharge the duties of the office of mayor’ of South Bend but he’s been faithful only to his political interests, has not been impartial about this incident, and has diligently used this to advance his presidential campaign,” Mills concluded. “If he wants to honor the oath he took, Mayor Buttigieg will recuse himself from this matter by taking no part in any decisions, conversations, or other aspects of it.”

Mills went on to point out that, largely because of the efforts of Buttigieg and others to politicize this issue, Sgt. O’Neill has been sued, is facing unwarranted employment discipline, and is being defamed on social media. He may be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and costs. O’Neill is married, with one child. He and his wife are expecting another child. They don’t have the means to cover such fees and costs. That’s why FOP Lodge #36 has set up a GoFundMe account to help defend this officer against the Buttigieg political machine and the various anti-police activists who are attacking him. The GoFundMe page is GoFundMe.com/defend-officers-oneill