The family of a black man who was killed by a white police officer in South Bend, Indiana, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Wednesday against the officer and the city.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, alleges excessive deadly force in the “shooting death of an African American, 54-year-old father of seven … by a white South Bend police officer.”
South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill shot Eric Logan near an apartment complex on June 16 while responding to reports of a car burglary. Prosecutors alleged Logan threatened the officer with a knife, but Logan’s family has denied those claims and alleged the officer shot Logan while he was walking to his mother’s home after a family gathering.
“The misconduct was objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others,” the lawsuit stated. “In addition, the misconduct and excessive force, including use of deadly force … shocks the conscience.”
The lawsuit involves O’Neill and the city of South Bend, whose mayor is 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg. The presidential candidate, who has been South Bend’s mayor since 2012, is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit but is named where the city’s address is listed.
The lawsuit accuses O’Neill of violating Logan’s 14th Amendment rights by intentionally subjecting him to unlawful, unequal treatment based on his race. It also alleges that the city of South Bend was liable in Logan’s death by failing to properly train, investigate and discipline its officers, leading police to believe they will not be punished for misconduct.
The lawsuit mentions O’Neill’s alleged history of making racist and discriminatory comments and notes that the officer never turned on his body camera during the shooting.
The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and demands a trial. O’Neill is currently on administrative leave.
The shooting led to widespread protests in South Bend, prompting Buttigieg to take time from his 2020 campaign to face constituents in his town and issue a request that all police officers be ordered to keep their body cameras activated in encounters with civilians. On Sunday, the Democratic hopeful faced emotional community members at a town hall event to discuss the shooting and racist police violence.
In addition to the town hall, St. Joseph County prosecutor Ken Cotter requested a special prosecutor on Monday to investigate the shooting and determine whether O’Neill should be criminally charged, according to WNDU.
Buttigieg also said Sunday he will send a letter to the Justice Department asking for a civil rights investigation, but stressed that a letter does not guarantee the department will act on the request. He said he still plans to attend the first Democratic presidential debate on Thursday in Miami despite the turmoil in South Bend.
Read the lawsuit below: