A lawyer for the family of a black man fatally shot by a white police officer in the Indiana city where Pete Buttigieg is mayor on Friday accused the Democratic presidential candidate of failing to be aggressive enough in setting rules to curb police misconduct.
Attorney Brian Coffman said he’s preparing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of South Bend on behalf of the family of 54-year-old Eric Logan, who was shot by an officer Sunday.
“It is overall total acceptance of this behavior by the South Bend Police Department and the city itself,” Coffman said in an interview.
Coffman said he believed Buttigieg was trying to now say the right things, but that such actions should’ve been taken before. “That’s just being reactive, it’s not being proactive and making sure this never happened and having rules in place for South Bend police officers and body cameras,” Coffman said.
Pete Buttigieg took the stage at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s convention Saturday and addressed difficulties he’s faced in the aftermath of a police shooting that has both exposed racial tensions in his home town and left him the subject of intense criticism, particularly from his black constituents.
“I’ve been off the campaign trail helping my community move through a tragic shooting of resident of our community by a police officer,” Buttigieg said. “It is as if one member of our family died at the hands of another.”
During a protest, a protester told Buttigieg “You are truly running for president and you want black people to vote for you. You [are] running for president and you want black people to vote for you — that’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen.”
“I’m not asking for your vote,” Buttigieg responded. “I will promise that there will be a review to make sure that there is no racism on this department and that it will be independent.”
Meanwhile Mayor’s office spokesman Mark Bode declined to comment Friday on Coffman’s remarks or the potential lawsuit, saying the city was awaiting results of the investigation being overseen by the county prosecutor.
Logan didn’t have any convictions for serious violent crimes, but was released from prison in June 2018 after serving a sentence for a 2009 conviction in South Bend on three felony counts of dealing cocaine or narcotics, according to Indiana Department of Correction records.
Logan’s family believes a federal investigation of the shooting should be sought, rather than relying on one overseen by the county prosecutor’s office, which works closely with the city police department, or a police internal review, Coffman said.
“It is very tough to believe the left arm of a police department telling you what the right arm did wrong,” he said.