During a rally Friday night, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks over a petition calling for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of city police. Buttigieg told the crowd he would sign the petition if wording revisions were made. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
During a rally Friday night, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks over a petition calling for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of city police. Buttigieg told the crowd he would sign the petition if wording revisions were made. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Activist groups and some South Bend elected officials want to see an outside investigation of the fatal shooting of a black man, Eric Logan, by a white city police officer.

Demands have ranged from the appointment of a special prosecutor to review the shooting itself, to a broader investigation of the South Bend Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice. At a rally Friday night, protesters presented Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a petition asking for a DOJ investigation, and he pledged to sign it if wording revisions were made.

But there’s no guarantee an agency outside St. Joseph County will take up the case, even for a limited investigation of Logan’s shooting, and recent history in nearby Elkhart shows a broader review of the police department as a whole could be difficult to achieve without cutting a sizable check.

Two South Bend Common Council members, Oliver Davis and Regina Williams-Preston, have joined a coalition of faith leaders and other community members in calling for a special prosecutor to look into whether or not any criminal charges are warranted for police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill. The appointment of a special prosecutor would take charging decision out of St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter’s hands.

“We’re going to have to have outside eyes given the nature of what’s going on in this community,” Davis said.

Davis said he will read a letter at Monday’s council meeting, asking Cotter to recuse himself and seek a special prosecutor. Council attorney Bob Palmer said each council member will separately be given a choice to sign a similar letter if they wish.

Williams-Preston said she has heard “calls from the community to have some sort of independent investigation, to have some result the community felt they could trust, rather than having the department essentially investigate itself.”

Cotter said in a news release last week that he had “not made a final determination on whether requesting a special prosecutor is appropriate.”
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