Editor's note: This story has been updated.
The special prosecutor who’s investigating a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a black man in the Indiana city where Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is mayor said Tuesday that his probe won’t be rushed and will take “as long as it takes.”
A St. Joseph County judge named Ripley County Prosecutor Richard Hertel last week to oversee the investigation into South Bend Sgt. Ryan O'Neill's June 16 shooting of Eric Logan.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter has said O’Neill was responding to a report of a person breaking into cars when he confronted Logan, and that the officer said he shot Logan after the 54-year-old refused orders to drop a knife. Logan’s shooting was not recorded by the officer’s body camera, prosecutors have said.
The shooting prompted Buttigieg to leave the campaign trail for several days to answer questions about public safety and race.
Hertel said during a Tuesday briefing in South Bend that he met Monday with homicide detectives and Logan’s family “to let them know who we are and what we’re tasked with.” He said he may speak directly with witnesses during the probe and oversee the analysis of evidence.
At Hertel’s request, a team of Indiana State Police investigators is assisting with the investigation. They come from southeastern Indiana, where Hertel serves as county prosecutor in the city of Versailles.
The probe will take “as long as it takes,” Hertel said.
“While we want it to be expeditious, we want it to be complete, we want it to be done right. I don’t want to rush the detectives. I don’t want to rush the crime scene investigators. We want to make sure that it’s complete when we are finished with the matter,” he told reporters.
Hertel urged the public to come forward with any “credible information” about Logan’s death, and to ignore “rumors or gossip” posted on social media during the probe.
Buttigieg told the South Bend Common Council on Monday that he’ll ask the city’s public safety board to conduct a “community-oriented” review of officers’ use of deadly force, body cameras and suspect pursuit policies, promising to implement any resulting policy changes.
The mayor’s office has not responded to a message left Tuesday seeking comment on Hertel’s briefing.
Once the investigation is completed, Hertel’s three options are to present his findings to a judge, convene a grand jury or file criminal charges. Hertel said he recognizes some people in South Bend won’t be happy, regardless of his findings.
“I am confident that there are going to be portions of the individuals involved, individuals in this room, individuals in this community, who will not be satisfied with my decision,” he said.
Logan’s family is suing O'Neill in federal court, accusing him of using excessive deadly force. The lawsuit also names the city of South Bend as a defendant, but not Buttigieg.