Protestors Confront Mayor Pete Buttigieg After South Bend Officer Shoots and Kills Black Man

Protesters and members of South Bend's black community demanded answers Friday night from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for president, at a rally organized in response to the fatal shooting of Eric Logan, a 54-year-old black resident, by a city police officer.

Local media reports indicated around 150 people turned out for the Justice for South Bend rally, which began with a tense confrontation at police headquarters between demonstrators and Buttigieg, who was flanked by the city's Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski.

Attendees peppered Buttigieg with questions about whether he believed black lives matter and voiced demands to fire the officer responsible, Sgt. Ryan O'Neill.

At one point, a woman confronted Buttigieg about his presidential ambitions, an inconvenient obligation in the days leading up to the party's first presidential debates.

"You're running for president and you want black people to vote for you?" she asked. "That's not going to happen."

Friday night's standoff was spawned by Logan's fatal encounter with O'Neill last Sunday morning. O'Neill was responding to reports of an individual who was possibly breaking into cars downtown. When he arrived on scene, O'Neill claimed, Logan was brandishing a knife and lunged at him with it, which is when O'Neill said he fired his weapon.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Pete Buttigieg And Amy Klobuchar Speak At Blue Commonwealth Gala In Richmond, Virginia
Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg speaks at the 2019 Blue Commonwealth Gala fundraiser June 15, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Win McNamee/Getty

Officers in South Bend are equipped with body cameras, but the devices don't automatically turn on unless the lights and sirens of a police car are activated or the car is traveling at high speeds, neither of which was the case in the Logan shooting. O'Neill did not manually activate his camera.

Acknowledging the deficit created by this approach, Buttigieg had his police chief issue an order affirming department policy that interactions with civilians be recorded.

One woman at the rally expressed her anguish about encounters with police, wondering whether or not good-faith compliance with officers' demands could still lead to her death.

"When we get pulled over, do we run or do we stay?" she asked, according to the South Bend Tribune. "Do we grab our IDs or do you wait until you all just kill us too? It's scary. Do you understand we are here today because we are scared?"

Relatives of Logan were also in attendance Friday night, and they tried to convey to Buttigieg the community's long-standing frustrations with the police department, which is overwhelmingly white, despite serving a city with a substantial African American population.

"People are getting tired of you letting your officers do whatever they want to do," Logan's brother said.

A lawyer for Logan's family reportedly plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against O'Neill and the city.

O'Neill has been the subject of complaints about potential racial bias in the past. A former officer once raised concerns after O'Neill allegedly made disparaging comments about interracial marriage. An internal investigation cleared O'Neill of wrongdoing. Two black men in his custody have also sued him over alleged use of excessive force.

In one suit, O'Neill was accused of using his Taser on a man whose arms were already raised and hurling a racial epithet at him. Another man sued over accusations of police brutality. Both lawsuits were dismissed after the appropriate filing fees weren't paid.