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Ex-cop who shot Black man gets probation on unrelated charge

October 28, 2020 GMT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A white former South Bend police officer whose fatal shooting of a Black man roiled then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to a charge stemming from an on-duty sexual encounter he had a month before that shooting.

Ryan O’Neill, 44, was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation after agreeing to plead guilty last month to one felony count of ghost employment. Prosecutors say he gave a woman $20 and performed a sex act with her while he was on duty one morning in May 2019.

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“I engaged in an unseemly act that was for my benefit alone,” O’Neill said in a statement to the court in which he apologized for his actions, the South Bend Tribune reported.

A St. Joseph County judge accepted O’Neill’s plea agreement, under which he has agreed not to seek or accept any public employment, including as a police officer.

O’Neill’s sexual encounter was uncovered during a special prosecutor’s investigation of his fatal June 16, 2019, shooting of Eric Logan, 54. O’Neill said he shot Logan after Logan refused the officer’s orders to drop a knife while O’Neill was investigating a report of a person breaking into cars.

Special prosecutor Ric Hertel charged O’Neill in that encounter in March after finding that Logan’s shooting was justified. Hertel said the evidence showed that O’Neill — who resigned weeks after the shooting — feared for his safety when he fired two shots as Logan approached him with a knife.

Logan’s family continues to pursue a federal civil rights lawsuit against O’Neill and the city that accuses O’Neill of using excessive deadly force.

Logan’s brother, Tyree Bonds, said after Tuesday’s hearing that O’Neill’s sentencing will not provide justice to the Black community.

“My brother’s life did not matter. They sentenced him on some stuff everybody already knew he was doing and they should have sentenced him on murder,” Bonds said.

The fallout from Logan’s killing presented Buttigieg, who ended his presidential campaign in March, with some of the toughest moments of his bid to win the Democratic nomination for president.

Buttigieg stepped away from the campaign trail and faced angry residents at an emotional town hall in South Bend, a city of about 100,000 residents, a quarter of whom are Black.