Pete Buttigieg briefly returns to the campaign trail after police shooting in South Bend

By Jack Turman

/ CBS News

Pete Buttigieg's 6-figure student loan debt

Days after a shooting that has shaken his city, presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is set to return to the campaign trail Thursday evening for events in Boston, one of which is a fundraiser.

Buttigieg had gone back to the city Sunday afternoon after South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O'Neill, a white police officer, fatally shot Eric Logan, an African American man.

The shooting is the latest episode in what local activist Eli Cantu described as the "horrible" relationship between South Bend police and the city's black community. "I mean, there is no trust," Cantu, who organized a Wednesday night vigil for Logan, told CBS News.

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According to the mayor's office and the campaign, Buttigieg was scheduled to be in California early this week for fundraisers and a policy announcement. Instead, he spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in meetings with community and religious leaders, activists and elected officials.

Buttigieg also attended the vigil organized by Cantu Wednesday night, where he spoke with Logan's mother. Cantu and South Bend common council member Oliver Davis told CBS News they appreciated the mayor showing up to the Wednesday vigil, but Davis said he was disappointed that Buttigieg had not attended another one on Monday night.

Cantu, who said he met with Buttigieg Thursday morning, said the black community is grieving this week, but added that potential meetings are being planned with the mayor to help remedy the situation. He emphasized that these meetings can be an opportunity for Buttigieg to show his support for South Bend's black residents, and also that millennials should be involved in the conversation.

"This is the perfect time for him to show where he stands, you know," Cantu said. "Is he going to be for the people here or not? And I think that has to do with how he handles this issue."

Buttigieg has been criticized in the past for his handling of racial issues in South Bend. In 2012, he fired the city's first black police chief, Darryl Boykins, who was being investigated by the FBI at the time and later sued the city for racial discrimination.

The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit is investigating the shooting and reviewing evidence. According to a release from the prosecutor's office, Logan allegedly approached O'Neill with a knife and O'Neill discharged his service weapon. After learning that O'Neill's body camera was not activated, Buttigieg requested that the chief of police issue an order reaffirming that officers should have their body cameras turned on when engaging with civilians.

Davis, the city's longest-serving black common council member, told CBS News that he will be introducing a non-binding resolution on Monday calling for an independent investigation. He said his resolution has a high level of support within the council. To improve the relationship between law enforcement and minority residents in South Bend, Davis said the police department and public officials need to "reflect the city."

"We do need to have more diversity in our police department," Davis said, noting that the new class of police cadets lacks diversity.

Since Buttigieg has taken over as mayor, a campaign aide told CBS News, South Bend has implemented bias training for police and made public more data concerning the use of force. And in an interview earlier this week with WUBS, a local radio station, Buttigieg said that his administration has taken steps to diversify the police force and improve the recruiting process for applicants.

But Buttigieg also admitted that he has "failed to get us a more diverse police department."

"I know it's a problem," Buttigieg said in the interview. "I accept responsibility for the fact that the problem has not been solved. I will continue to seek help from experts inside and outside this community on how to improve it."

While addressing the new police cadets at a swearing in ceremony Wednesday morning, Buttigieg said he was "saddened and concerned" about the incident. He also said complex and often fraught history between minority communities and law enforcement is not "unrelated to race."

"In our past and present, we have seen innumerable moments in which racial injustice came at the hands of those trusted with being instruments of justice. This fact burdens everyone, all of us, no matter who we are," the mayor said.

Common council member Tim Scott told CBS News that some of the trust built between the community and law enforcement "has been pushed back a little bit" by the shooting. He added that "the mayor has been out front more than he has been in the past" on this issue.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Buttigieg called for more transparency in the investigation and more dialogue between police and the black community. He said that this would not be an easy task, but that his city was up to the challenge.

"I believe in this city," Buttigieg said. "I love this city. And if there is any place that can overcome the things that are pulling people apart, it is this city, this community with your help."

A campaign aide told CBS News that Buttigieg is expected to return to South Bend Saturday evening and remain there into Monday.

First published on June 20, 2019 / 7:54 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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