Justice for Eric Logan
Nola Wallace | Friday, August 14, 2020
This summer, our timelines flooded with COVID data, press briefings and George Floyd. His story, the camera footage and the public’s outcry rocked the world. Not only did it spark a modern-day civil rights movement, but it also jumpstarted an important discussion on the injustices of the modern day criminal justice system. As much as we all would like to move back to campus and bury our heads in our books, there is still unrest in the air, and especially in South Bend. This is not the first time the community has been racked by loss and unrest over police brutality. As many locals gathered over the summer to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, another chant rang out from South Bend demanding to be heard: “Justice for Eric Logan.”
On June 16, 2019, Logan was shot by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill while investigating a string of vehicle thefts. The officer claimed to have caught Logan after receiving reports of a suspicious person. When confronted, the officer claimed that Logan approached him with a knife, disobeyed orders and was consequently shot — after which, O’Neill spoke over the radio: “Guy threw a knife at me.”
Logan’s family has actively voiced opposition to this narrative, stating that he would never attack an officer and had no history of theft. Sadly, the family and the community are left without answers due to a lack of body camera footage. Although all South Bend officers are required to have an active body camera, O’Neill’s was not active during this event, prompting some to believe there is more to the story.
In the end, O’Neill was backed by special prosecutor Ric Hertel who said this shooting was “justified.” Shortly after, O’Neill was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor for a separate infraction of soliciting prostitution while on duty. This event occurred one month before the shooting of Logan. O’Neill resigned shortly after. Logan’s family has since filed a lawsuit against the city of South Bend and O’Neill, in which they cite prior allegations against O’Neill for making racist comments to fellow officers.
Logan’s story is just one in a sea of thousands. For the South Bend community, it is yet another reminder that we are far from where we must be. As a student of color, it is another reminder of what we may face when we leave the safety of college. As we continue the fight for justice and equality, we must remember we still have work to do — as a campus, as a city and as a nation. As always, the first step is being informed, but the next steps are up to you.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.