Jun 23, 2019

Buttigieg faces tense town hall on South Bend police shooting

 Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg addresses the crowd at the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22.

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigie. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg fielded questions Sunday on a police officer-involved shooting during a tense town hall in his hometown — addressing an issue that's seen by many as a test of the Democratic presidential candidate's leadership.

Why it matters: Buttigieg took time off the 2020 campaign trail to deal with the fallout from the shooting of Eric Logan, a 54-year-old African American, by a white police officer. Buttigieg has seen his campaign soar in recent weeks, but a June poll shows nearly half of African Americans surveyed don't know him. Some critics have suggested Buttigieg has a history of alienating minorities in South Bend, Axios' Rashaan Ayesh writes.

The big picture: Buttigieg has already directed police to turn on their body cameras when interacting with civilians after it was revealed the shooting incident involving Sgt. Ryan O'Neill and Logan wasn't recorded.

  • During the town hall, Buttigieg said he would write to the Justice Department to request its civil rights division look into the June 16 shooting and he would notify the local prosecutor that he'd like to see the appointment of an independent investigator.
  • He twice had to ask the crowd to quiet down so he could address points, fielding often tough questions, including on authorities' responses and claims of systemic racism.
"I don’t want to seem defensive, but we have taken a lot of steps. They clearly haven’t been enough. But I can’t accept the suggestion that we haven’t done anything. I acknowledge that it has not been enough. I would like as many different voices to be in the process as possible. ... It’s why we’re here."

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