SOUTH BEND, Ind.–The special prosecutor appointed to investigate the shooting death of a black man by a white South Bend police officer says state police will be helping him and the investigation will not be rushed.
Ric Hertel, the prosecuting attorney in Ripley County, has been appointed to investigate the June 16 shooting where a black man, Eric Logan, was shot and killed by South Bend Police Sergeant Ryan O’Neill at the Central High Apartments. South Bend Police say O’Neill was responding to a call of cars being broken into and that Logan was a car thief. O’Neill says Logan threatened him with a knife, but Logan’s family says that’s not true.
O’Neill didn’t turn his body camera on, so there is no video to show what happened. Hertel has been the prosecutor in Ripley County for the past 20 years and is now handling his 11th special prosecutor’s case.
In a press conference Tuesday, Hertel says his responsibility is to investigate, re-investigate, or oversee and review the shooting of Logan.
“So what exactly does that mean? That means I could be talking to witnesses, reviewing evidence, or I may oversee the analysis of some of the items sent to laboratories. It could be a variety of things,” Hertel said.
Hertel has asked state police to give him a team of investigators to assist him throughout the investigation.
“Specifically, they’re going to be from southeast Indiana. They’re going to be detectives, crime scene investigators, and evidence technicians. For the last three days, five of us have been in your community starting to look into this matter,” Hertel said.
He knows people want to see the result of the investigation quickly, which is why he offers a word of caution.
“When I’m asked about a time frame, my response is going to be, ‘As long as it takes.’ I don’t want to rush the detectives or the crime scene investigators. We want to make sure that it’s complete when we are finished,” Hertel said.
Hertel says he will not be giving updates while the investigation is going on.
“What happens in the investigation will come from me or State Police. The rest of the matter may be subject to rumor or gossip,” Hertel said.
When the investigation is done, Hertel says he has three choices.
“The first choice is to provide a set of findings to the judge. The second choice would be to convene a grand jury. The third choice is to file criminal charges as a result of the investigation,” Hertel said.
State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says he will not allow subjective opinion, predetermined outcomes that lack material fact, or politics at any level to interfere with the investigation.
“We will determine facts through sound legal principles and investigative techniques. Please remember this is a criminal investigation and not an internal review of the South Bend Police Department,” Carter said.
Carter and Hertel did not take any questions at Tuesday’s press conference.
(PHOTO: State of Indiana’s website)