Ryan O’Neill pleads guilty to ghost employment

NOW: Ryan O’Neill pleads guilty to ghost employment

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—The former South Bend Police officer who shot and killed Eric Logan in June of 2019 on Tuesday pleaded guilty to ghost employment, a level 6 felony, in an unrelated case.

Ryan O’Neill entered a guilty plea for a ghost employment charge that stems from an alleged encounter with a prostitute while he was on duty in May 2019.

Ghost employment essentially means O’Neill did something while on the job unrelated to his duties while still accepting his salary. In this case, the ghost employment charge is related to the alleged sexual encounter.

“He exhibited some conduct that was honestly unbecoming of a public servant,” special prosecutor Ric Hertel said.

If the judge accepts O’Neill’s guilty plea, his remaining charges of official misconduct and public indecency would be dismissed as part of the agreement. He is facing a sentence of two years of probation unless he serves the first year with no violations, then it could be reduced to one year, according to the prosecutor.

O’Neill would also not be able to work as a police officer or for any other public agency for 10 years and would not receive jail time.

“Ryan is apologetic to the department, his fellow officers and to the public for the mistakes that he’s made, he understands that that did not live up to the standards that he set for himself or that the community expected from him,” O’Neill’s attorney, John Kautzman said.

Hertel called the plea agreement a win for the community, while the family of Eric Logan said it is simply not enough.

“I think the goal was that there was a conviction and that he not be a police officer again and I think that both of those goals were accomplished,” Hertel said.

“No justice, at all,” Eric Logan’s brother, Tyree Bonds said.

Bonds said the punishment does not equate to taking the life of Logan, who was allegedly holding a knife and breaking into cars outside a local apartment complex. 

“No, ain’t no win,” Bonds said. “That right there, the state is trying to please the community, it’s charging him with something, but that’s nothing. He killed a human being.”

The dynamic between the police and the community of South Bend is still divided, according to Bonds.

“It’s going to be divided for a long time now, this right here just shows us. We don’t got no love, we don’t got no respect, then why should we give them some respect?” Bonds said. “How can we be at peace when we don’t get no justice, they want us to be peace. Help us.”

“I think it’s important to have closure, there was obviously a lot that was looked at very carefully with regard to the police action shooting he  was involved in,” Kautzman said. “We are happy and pleased that was fully investigated and he was shown to have acted appropriately in those tragic circumstances. This, unfortunately, was something else that was going on his life that was very troublesome, as I say tragic for everybody involved, but at this point it’s’ important for the community and for he and his family to put this behind him and move forward.”

O’Neill’s sentencing hearing has been set for October 27.

Shortly after the fatal shooting of Logan, O’Neill resigned from the South Bend Police Department.

A special prosecutor that was called in to investigate the Logan case did not charge O’Neill in relation to Logan’s death.

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