South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was quick to admit responsibility when asked on the Democratic debate stage about his failure to create a police force that reflects the diversity of his community.
“I couldn’t get it done,” he said during the second Democratic primary debate on Thursday night. “My community is in anguish right now because of an officer shooting... It’s a mess, and we’re hurting.”
Buttigieg’s record as mayor came under heavy scrutiny earlier this month after a white police officer shot and killed a black man in South Bend. The mayor left the presidential campaign trail following the shooting to be on hand for the city’s response.
South Bend’s police department is only 6% black in a community that is 26% black, moderator Rachel Maddow noted. Buttigieg has been unable to bridge this gap in his two terms as mayor.
Sgt. Ryan O’Neill — who was reportedly investigating reports of car break-ins — was equipped with a body camera, but did not turn it on before fatally shooting 54-year-old Eric Logan.
Logan’s family has since filed a lawsuit against the police department and the city of South Bend, disputing the officer’s claims that Logan had been wielding a knife.
“I could walk you through all of the things that we have done as a community, all of the steps that we took, from bias training to deescalation, but it didn’t save the life of Eric Logan,” Buttigieg said Thursday. “When I look into his mother’s eyes, I have to face the fact, and nothing that I say will bring him back.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) attacked Buttigieg for his choice to await the findings of the investigation before taking action.
“But you’re the mayor, you should fire the chief,” Swalwell said. “If that’s the policy and someone died.”
Buttigieg did not have an opportunity to respond to the congressman.