Family of Black man killed by South Bend officer taking civil rights case to 7th Circuit

The family of a Black South Bend man who was fatally shot more than two years ago by a white police officer plans to ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling in favor of the officer.

Lawyers for the family or Eric Jack Logan on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal with the 7th Circuit and told Indiana Lawyer in an email that the family will ask the appellate court to overturn the summary judgment ruling entered last month in former officer Ryan O’Neill’s favor.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana entered judgment for O’Neill  on claims that he violated Logan’s rights under the Fourth and 14th amendments. The suit was filed by Logan’s estate against O’Neill and the city of South Bend.

In June 2019, O’Neill — who was then a sergeant with the South Bend police — shot Logan while responding to a report of a man breaking into vehicles in the parking lot of a local apartment complex. O’Neill has said Logan was holding a knife above his head and was advancing toward O’Neill when the officer fired twice.

In ruling for O’Neill, Judge Damon Leichty determined Logan posed a “deadly threat” to the officer before the shots were fired.

“Our country has witnessed sobering cases of law enforcement using deadly force on unarmed citizens,” Leichty wrote. “At first blush, the headline here might read similarly — South Bend police sergeant kills Black man — but the circumstances of this summer night cannot be reduced to a mere headline.

“What is the same is the tragic loss of human life,” Leichty continued. “What is different is the deadly threat this suspect posed to the sergeant when he reasonably used his sidearm.”

Following Leichty’s ruling, the Logan family’s legal team said it was “very disappointed” with the decision.

After the shooting, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the incident, and O’Neill resigned from the South Bend police force. The prosecutor announced in March 2020 that he had determined O’Neill was justified in his use of force against Logan.

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