Last week, a federal judge dismissed the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Eric Logan after considering the city of South Bend, Ind.’s, motion to dismiss the case for nearly a year. Logan was a 54-year-old Black man fatally shot by a white South Bend police officer in June 2019.
The Root reported that former South Bend Police officer Sgt. Ryan O’Neill shot Eric Logan while responding to a call about someone breaking into cars. He saw Logan bent over in a parked car when he called out to him. O’Neill says Logan approached him with a knife and did not drop it when ordered to, so he shot him twice.
O’Neill had neither his body camera nor the patrol car dash camera turned on during the shooting. So, yes, that means we’re left to trust the only living witness with everything to lose.
O’Neill resigned a few weeks later, and a special prosecutor decided not to file criminal charges against him for the incident. South Bend’s Black Lives Matter chapter was extremely critical of how Logan’s shooting was handled under then-mayor, former presidential candidate and now U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg.
According to the Associated Press, Logan’s family sued the city of South Bend and the former officer in June 2019. The lawsuit, dismissed on Wednesday, argued that the officer used excessive force by shooting Logan after he dropped the knife.
The family’s suit brought up contradictions in the officer’s statements and his alleged history of making racist remarks.
According to the South Bend Tribune, U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty said that the family didn’t bring enough evidence to refute the “reasonable” reaction from officer O’Neill.
From the Tribune:
The Logan family has 30 days to file an appeal.
In the suit, Logan family attorneys honed in on questions raised by the special prosecutor’s investigation, such as whether O’Neill fired his gun before or after Logan dropped the knife.
Body camera footage captured O’Neill telling other officers who responded to the scene that Logan “threw that knife at me, he’s coming at me with the knife and I’m like, ‘drop the knife,’ then he (expletive) throws it at me, yeah, he (expletive) threw the knife at me so I (expletive) shot him.”
But in statements made later that morning, O’Neill told investigators Logan stopped and threw the knife after being shot.
It still remains unclear if Logan dropped the knife before or after he was shot.
The judge said Logan dropping the knife and O’Neill shooting him happened within seconds of each other so the timing of which came first doesn’t change his ruling.
Well, I think it is reasonable to question why it wouldn’t matter when the knife was dropped. If it was dropped before the shooting, that would mean O’Neill shot an unarmed, Black man.
Also, an officer with a gun has an absolute advantage over someone with a knife. Why shoot to kill?
The family also brought a forensic pathologist who testified that the downward trajectory of the bullets could mean Logan was kneeling when he was shot. The Tribune reports that city attorneys argued the downward trajectory was really a result of Logan moving toward O’Neill.
According to the Tribune, the family’s attorney, Brian Coffman, says they are considering an appeal. “We’re of course very disappointed with the judge’s ruling. We are going to, of course, speak to our clients about it and discuss potential appeal issues with them,” Coffman said. “We think that this is a case, a question of fact, that should go to a jury to decide.”
Last fall, the Tribune reports, O’Neill pleaded guilty to an unrelated felony for paying a woman for a sex act while on duty.