Federal judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Eric Logan’s family

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the family of Eric Logan against former South Bend Police Sergeant Ryan O'Neill and the city of South Bend, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.

Logan’s family filed the lawsuit shortly after O'Neill shot and killed Logan on June 16, 2019. 

The family's lawsuit alleged Sgt. O’Neill violated Logan's constitutional rights by using excessive force and discriminating against him based on his race. O'Neill is white and Logan was Black.

The judge granted the defense's motion for summary judgement on the excessive force and discrimination claims.

For the reasonable force issue, the judge wrote the constitution prohibits unreasonable force by officers, but O'Neill's actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

As a legal standard, the judge had to determine whether O'Neill acted in an objectively reasonable manner and whether another officer would act similarly in the same situation.

The estate argued the timing of when Logan threw the knife at O'Neill and when O'Neill fired the shot.

The judge disagreed.

"Sergeant O'Neill acted reasonably whether he fired his sidearm at the same time or in the instant after Mr. Logan threw the knife."

The judge also found the experts who provided testimony on behalf of the estate lacked the proper credentials to provide valuable expert testimony.

If Logan's estate had provided evidence that would convince a jury that O'Neill acted unreasonably, the case could have moved forward, but because there was not, summary judgement was granted in favor of the defendants on the excessive force allegation.

The judge also found there was no evidence to suggest O'Neill was biased against Blacks or discriminated against Logan. There was no evidence Logan was shot because of his race.

The court also granted motions to strike an affidavit provided by the estate, and granted motions to exclude two estate witnesses as expert witnesses.

The court found summary judgment in favor of the defendants and says this terminates the case.

Brian Coffman, the Logan family’s attorney, said he’s disappointed in the ruling and is discussing possible appeal options with the family.

The judge concluded the opinion with the following paragraph:

“Confronted and separated by mere feet in the dead of night, Eric Jack Logan advanced toward Sergeant Ryan O’Neill with a Gerber knife raised over his head, ignoring measures designed to avert a dangerous encounter and quick commands to drop it. Mr. Logan posed in that instant an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury. Almost one on top of the other, the knife and two bullets were exchanged. Mr. Logan was killed. Some may choose to second-guess Sergeant O’Neill’s split-second decision that night, but faced with an imminent threat to his safety, he acted reasonably under the law based on all the information available to him in that moment. Today’s decision might be different if the facts were different, but this record offers no proof of different facts.”

ABC57 has reached out to the South Bend Police Department for comment on the judgment but we have not received a response.

The city of South Bend released the following statement, "The City respects the legal process and believes its legal filings and the Court’s ruling speak for themselves.”

Click here to read our past stories on Eric Logan


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