Police union, family of Eric Logan react to special prosecutor appointment
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Court documents show Ripley County prosecutor named as the special prosecutor appointed to the June 16 officer-involved shooting in South Bend.
Ridley County Prosecutor Richard Hertel has accepted the court ordered appointment to take over the controversial case. In June, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter requested the court appoint an outside prosecutor to avoid any ‘conflict of interest.’
“If it’s got to go through another prosecutor for that to happen,” said Harvey Mills, president of Fraternal Order of Police #36. “We’re all in favor.”
FOP #36 remains confident in South Bend Police Sergeant Ryan O’ Neill. O’Neill claims on June 16 that Eric Logan, who was accused of breaking into cars in downtown South Bend, did the following:
- Approached O’Neill with a knife,
- Ignored O’Neill’s demands to drop the knife.
O’Neill claims he had to shoot Logan because he threatened him with the weapon.
“The evidence will clearly show that this shooting was justified in self-defense of that officer,” said Mills.
The attorney for the Logan Family, Brian Coffman, said with Ripley County almost four hours from South Bend the investigation won’t be led by someone who could be swayed. He said the family wants an independent source to investigate the case.
“And give answers to what we all have questions for,” Coffman said.
The Logan family is suing the City of South Bend and Sgt. O’Neill. On Tuesday, FOP #36 launched a fundraising page to cover O’Neill’s legal fees.
By Wednesday night, the page had passed $60,000. Mills said the support locally and nationally is overwhelming.
However, Coffman claims that according to Indiana Code 3413-4 ‘Civil Rights claims against public employees,’ O’Neill will be defended by the city attorney in this civil lawsuit.
In the civil suit, the City will defend itself and Sgt. O’Neill. However, if South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski recommends termination or Sgt. O’Neill is criminally charged, he will have to pay for an attorney.
Coffman called the police union’s fundraising efforts ‘propaganda.’
“To try and get a narrative that supports this officer’s conduct, when we don’t even know what happened that night,” Coffman said.
ABC 57 News reached out to Special Prosecutor Hertel on Wednesday. The founder of ‘Blackativist,’ a local activist group, said the appointment meets the demands of the community.
“I don’t know a whole lot about this person who’s assigned,” said Jorden Giger. “But we do want to let the process just sort of unfold on its own.”
On July 13, Giger's group will host a rally at the Jon R. Hunt Plaza in Downtown South Bend to raise awareness about police and community relations.
According to a state website, before becoming the county prosecutor, Hertel was a criminal defense attorney. Three years ago, reports show he requested special prosecutors for two investigations in his county due to conflicts of interests.
It’s unclear if Hertel has taken on a case like the case of Eric Logan and Sgt. O’Neill.