Family appeals after wrongful death suit tossed in Indiana

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The family of a Black man who was fatally shot by a white Indiana police officer in 2019 is appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of their wrongful death lawsuit.

Eric Logan’s relatives argue in their appeal filed this week in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that the judge was incorrect to dismiss the suit and that he should have considered evidence regarding former South Bend police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill’s credibility and policing standards, the South Bend Tribune reported.

“Some of the decisions that were made by the judge in weighing the evidence in this matter, were outside his purview,” said Brian Coffman, an attorney representing the O’Neill family. “That is up to a jury to weigh those facts and decide what actually happened in this incident.”

Logan’s family sued the city of South Bend and O’Neill over the June 2019 shooting. O’Neill said the 54-year-old Logan refused his orders to drop a knife as the officer investigated a report of a person breaking into cars.

Last September, U.S. District Judge Damon Leichty dismissed the suit, ruling that O’Neill acted reasonably when Logan moved toward him with a hunting knife raised over his head.

The family’s lawsuit said O’Neill used excessive force and that Logan had thrown the knife before the officer shot him twice.

A special prosecutor ruled that O’Neill, who resigned weeks after Logan’s killing, was justified in the shooting. O’Neill was sentenced in October 2020 to probation after pleading guilty to a charge related to an earlier on-duty sexual encounter.

The fallout from Logan’s killing snarled then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. Buttigieg, who is now President Joe Biden’s transportation secretary, had to step away from the campaign trail to face angry residents at an emotional town hall in South Bend.

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