A South Bend, Ind., police union is accusing Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D) of using a police-involved shooting “solely for his political gain,” according to a news release.
In a letter posted Monday on Facebook, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36 said the way Buttigieg has handled a fatal police shooting of a black man in the Indiana city has been with the sole focus of helping his 2020 presidential campaign and “not the health of the city he serves.”
“Mayor Buttigieg’s comments have already and will continue to have a detrimental effect on local law enforcement officers and law enforcement officers nationwide,” adding that “his comments are driving a wedge between law enforcements and the community they took an oath to serve.”
The police union said it would “not waver” in its support for Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, the officer involved in the shooting that has ignited tensions between law enforcement and the city’s black community.
The St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the incident, said O’Neill confronted a man, later identified as 54-year-old South Bend resident Eric Logan, in an apartment complex parking lot when the man approached the officer with a knife. The officer reportedly shot and killed Logan.
O’Neill was equipped with a body camera, but did not have it operating at the time of the incident.
In a campaign email Thursday night, Buttigieg responded to the June 16 shooting by saying “all police work and all of American life takes place in the shadow of racism, which hurts everyone and everything it touches.”
“Historic racism, present-day racism, and generational racism — they all secrete a kind of poison into the bloodstream of this country,” he added.
In its letter, the union called Buttigieg’s remarks “divisive.”
“Mayor Buttigieg has in no way unified the community,” the letter says. “Mayor Buttigieg continues to only focus on one incident and one family [and] … has left several others ostracized.”
“The members of this lodge and the officers of the South Bend Police Department have been and continue to be committed to building trust between its officers and the community,” the letter reads. “If we are to grow and change for the better, it will require us to set political agendas aside and simply come together.”
Buttigieg left the campaign trail to return to South Bend following the shooting. He faced criticism earlier in his mayoral tenure that he wasn’t communicating with the community after other officer-involved shootings.
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Buttigieg says he still plans to participate in Thursday’s Democratic primary debate in Miami.
The mayor’s office and Buttigieg’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.