South Bend, IN – GoFundMe shut down a fundraising campaign to support a South Bend police officer and returned the donations because they determined the campaign was in support of a hate crime.
“Shockingly, GoFundMe told us that they cancelled the campaign because it was in support of a hate crime,” South Bend FOP President Harvey Mills said in a statement, the South Bend Tribune reported.
“This is fundamentally wrong and I’m shocked that a company would accuse a police officer of a hate crime simply for defending himself from an armed attacker,” the statement said.
The controversial incident occurred at about 3:30 a.m. on June 16 when South Bend Police Sergeant Ryan O’Neill responded to a call about a man breaking into cars at an apartment complex, according to a press release from the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Sgt. O’Neill encountered a man whose legs were sticking out of his car in the parking lot and stopped to talk to him and find out if he was the owner of the car.
When 54-year-old Eric Logan stood up, Sgt. O’Neill saw that the man’s hand was bleeding and he had a woman’s purse tucked under his clothing, according to the FOP.
Sgt. O’Neill asked Logan about the purse and the six-foot-two-inch suspect raised an eight-inch knife over his head and started moving toward him.
The sergeant backed up and ordered Logan to drop the knife three times, but Logan continued walking toward him until the officer had no more room to retreat, the press release said.
That’s when Sgt. O’Neill fired his weapon twice – just at the exact moment that Logan threw the knife at him.
Logan was hit once. The FOP said the sergeant sustained minor injuries to his forearm from the knife attack.
After he was shot, Logan remained standing but refused to answer Sgt. O’Neill’s questions as to whether he had been hit, the press release said.
South Bend police transported Logan to the hospital in a police car rather than delaying treatment to wait for an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
In the days that followed the incident, community activists gathered at the South Bend Police Department to protest in the days that followed the incident and marched to the County City Building to demand that city officials fire Sgt. O’Neill, WBND reported.
On June 27, Logan’s estate filed a lawsuit against the city of South Bend and Sgt. O’Neill, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The lawsuit alleged that Sgt. O’Neill used excessive deadly force.
The counts against the city and O'Neill also included equal protection and municipal liability, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Logan had seven children and his family has demanded a jury trial and sought compensatory damages against the city and O'Neill, as well as punitive damages against O'Neill.
The lawsuit alleged that Sgt. O’Neill failed to try to de-escalate the situation before he drew his service weapon and pointed it at Logan, according to the Indianapolis Star.
It also claimed that Sgt. O’Neill violated Logan’s constitutional rights and called the officer’s conduct “objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others."
The FOP set up a GoFundMe campaign on Monday afternoon to assist Sgt. O’Neill and his family with legal costs and other expenses related to the on-duty incident.
The page raised more than $5,000 in 24 hours before it was taken down at about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the South Bend Tribune reported.
Ryan Stubenrauch, an attorney and spokesman for the South Bend FOP, said GoFundMe claimed they had received complaints about the fundraiser for Sgt. O’Neill.
Stubenrauch responded to GoFundMe and said that Sgt. O’Neill had not been charged with a crime and was a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
But the crowdfunding platform replied that it was in their sole discretion to “cancel campaigns seeking to raise money for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate and other offenses,” according to the South Bend Tribune.
The FOP responded by launching a new campaign to support Sgt. O’Neill on the fundraising platform Fundly.
More than $67,000 was raised in the first 24 hours the fundraiser was active.
UPDATE: GoFundMe contacted Blue Lives Matter to confirm that the fundraising campaign for Sgt. O'Neill violated their terms of service.
“You’re not permitted to raise money for legal defense where an individual has been killed," a GoFundMe official said. "The campaign specifically stated it was for legal defense. This was not removed for hate.”