Officer in deadly shooting accused of racist comments; lack of bodycam footage explained
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Sergeant Ryan O'Neill told investigators he did not turn on this body camera, and its automatic functions didn't activate it either, when he opened fire on a car break-in suspect early Sunday morning at the Central High School apartments on West Colfax Avenue.
Prosecutors are still investigating, but without body cam footage of the moment 54-year-old Eric Logan was killed.
The department’s body cameras were added just over a year ago. St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter says the cameras only activate in three situations:
1. When the officer’s lights are on in the squad car and the door opens.
2. If the officer hits a high rate of speed.
3. If the officer turns it on manually.
Utility is the company that makes the BodyWorn camera, which is what the department uses. The company says manually starting the camera takes the push of a button.
The company also says some of the features listed on its website have been recently added.
South Bend Police confirm their cameras do not have the gunshot detection feature or the smart holster sensor listed online. O’Neill would have needed to manually active his body camera to have footage of the incident.
The body camera policy by the South Bend Police Department says officers should manually activate the camera during all enforcement stops, during field interviews or any other time the officer feels it may be useful.
ABC 57 has also obtained screenshots of documents that police say appear to be internal affairs reports. The documents are from 11 years ago. They lay out a fellow patrolman’s statement about some things O’Neill was saying while on the job.
That includes negative comments about interracial couples. O’Neill is quoted as saying “Man, I hate seeing that, it makes me sick…”
The fellow patrolman’s statement asks to no longer ride along with O’Neill.
“The screenshots appear to be a segment of one person's testimony on an internal affairs investigation. The assertions presented were determined to be "not sustained" at the conclusion of the investigation,” said Ken Garcia with the South Bend Police Department.
Not sustained means investigators couldn’t make a clear determination. It’s not clear why that was the case. The report did not result in any formal discipline for O’Neill.