A town hall featuring South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg devolved into chaos Sunday as the city struggled to respond to a deadly police-involved shooting last week.
In his opening remarks, the 37-year-old Buttigieg, a Democrat and candidate for president, said he would send a letter to the Justice Department requesting that its civil rights division look into the June 16 shooting of 54-year-old Eric Logan, who was black. The mayor added that he would notify the local prosecutor that he’d like an independent investigator appointed.
Buttigieg also admitted that the city’s efforts to recruit more minority police officers and require officers to use body cameras “have not succeeded and I accept responsibility for that.” Prosecutors said the shooting of Logan was not recorded by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill’s body camera.
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O’Neill, who is white, was responding to a report of a suspicious person breaking into cars when investigators said he fired one shot that hit Logan and another that missed after Logan threatened him with a knife. The investigators said O’Neill’s body camera wasn’t automatically activated because he was driving slowly without emergency lights while looking through an apartment building parking lot. O’Neill has since been placed on administrative leave.
Logan’s death prompted Buttigieg to cancel much of his out-of-state campaigning this week. Buttigieg returned to campaigning Friday with a trip to Miami but skipped a South Carolina event attended by 21 other presidential candidates to fly home for a Friday evening community march.
The town hall was interrupted frequently by outbursts and heckling. At one point, a man yelled at Buttigieg: “You gotta get back to South Carolina like you was yesterday? Talk about ‘all lives matter’ in South Carolina?” Another man approached the stage to yell at Buttigieg and South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, ignoring the moderator’s attempts to restore order.
“I don’t want to seem defensive, but we have taken a lot of steps,” Buttigieg said at one point. “They clearly haven’t been enough. But I can’t accept the suggestion that we haven’t done anything.”
Meanwhile, attorney Brian Coffman has said he was preparing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of South Bend on behalf of Logan’s family and has accused the police department and other city officials of tolerating bad behavior by officers.
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“That’s just being reactive,” Coffman told The Associated Press when asked about Buttigieg’s response to the shooting. “It’s not being proactive and making sure this never happened and having rules in place for South Bend police officers and body cameras.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.