by Tom Davies and Sara Burnett | Time
June 17, 2019
(INDIANAPOLIS) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is canceling several days of campaign events following the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer in the Indiana town where he serves as mayor.
Eric Jack Logan, 54, was killed in South Bend early Sunday after someone called police to report a suspicious person going through cars, according to the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office. A police officer confronted a man in a vehicle at an apartment building parking lot. The man, later identified as Logan, got out of the vehicle and approached the officer with a knife raised, and the officer opened fire, the prosecutor’s office said. He died at a hospital.
Authorities didn’t release the name or race of the officer. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.
The shooting presents both political peril for a presidential candidate who’s struggled to connect with minority voters and an opportunity to show leadership on issues of race and policing that are critical — and personal — for much of the Democratic primary electorate. In a matter of months, Buttigieg has gone from a relatively obscure 37-year-old mayor to the top tier of a crowded Democratic presidential field. His handling of the shooting could test his ability to navigate the demands of the campaign trail while still performing his day job.
“I did consider it important to be here to have these conversations,” Buttigieg said in South Bend on Sunday after cutting short a presidential campaign trip. “I know that whenever an incident like this happens, there is tremendous hurt that can come about. That the city will be hurting.” Asked by a reporter how the shooting might affect his presidential bid, Buttigieg declined to answer, saying, “Right now I’m here as mayor.”
He canceled Monday campaign events in New York and was spending the day meeting with community members and faith leaders. Later Monday, he also canceled a Tuesday trip to California, where he had a series of fundraisers scheduled, including one at the home of director and producer Ryan Murphy and his husband.
Buttigieg has proved to be a fundraising juggernaut, raising more than $7 million in April alone, according to a person close to the campaign who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss financial details.
But at home, he has had a sometimes-tense relationship with the black community dating back to his first term in office, when he fired the city’s first black police chief. He has also faced criticism for his handling of other shootings involving police officers and for not having a police department that reflects the city’s diversity; in a city where roughly 40% of residents are black or Hispanic, the department is almost 90% white.
Buttigieg said Sunday that he was sometimes hesitant to speak publicly after shootings involving police earlier in his time as mayor and that he heard from the black community that he needed to be more open and transparent. “One of the reasons we’re communicating up front right now is because of lessons learned from members of the community,” he said.
Logan’s wife, Shafonia Logan, told reporters after meeting with the police chief Sunday night that she had many questions about what happened to her husband of 13 years. She said her husband called her early Sunday asking her to pick him up, as he was out with friends, but she was in bed, and he replied that he would walk to his mother’s house a few minutes away. “I don’t know what happened or what they say — he was breaking into a car?” she said. “Was that justified for him to shoot and kill him about breaking in a car?”
Shafonia Logan said that she never knew her husband to carry a knife or a gun and that he was afraid of police officers. She also questioned why her husband was taken to a hospital in a police car rather than in an ambulance.
DeRay McKesson, who began protesting the police killings of black men in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, and has advocated for reforms addressing policing and communities of color, also said there are many questions left to be answered. He said that Buttigieg made the right choice to leave the campaign trail.
“We will all be watching to see how Buttigieg deals with this latest case of a police officer killing a citizen,” McKesson said. “He is still the mayor of South Bend. In leaving the campaign trail to be the leader he was elected to be, we will get perhaps the best glimpse into how he makes decisions under public pressure.”