Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana has stepped off the presidential campaign trail after a deadly shooting by a police officer in his city and canceled a planned appearance Monday at an LGBTQ gala in New York hosted by the Democratic National Committee.
At a news conference Sunday night in South Bend, the Democratic hopeful said he was getting in front of cameras as soon as possible after the incident because of lessons learned from prior experiences during his tenure for which he had been criticized.
"We've had prior cases of use-of-force incidents and officer-involved shootings where I hesitated, frankly, to get in front of cameras because we didn't know very much, and it was out of our hands," Buttigieg said. "What I was told by people in the community is that it is important to open channels of communication to try to be clear on where the city is, even if we don't find ourselves in a position to be able to say or do much right away."
Buttigieg said he others in his administration will meet with "faith leaders, neighborhood leaders, activists, anybody who cares enough about the city that they're concerned to know, not only what happened, but how we as a community can do a good job of healing even as we wait for more facts to come in."
Buttigieg was flanked at the news conference by the city's police chief and Common Council president.
Aides said Buttigieg was canceling several appearances Monday in New York, including one at the LGBTQ gala. Chasten Buttigieg, the mayor's husband, plans to appear in his place, the campaign said.
A spokesperson later said that the campaign has canceled events on Tuesday and Wednesday as well "so that Mayor Pete can be with the South Bend community after the officer-involved shooting."
Buttigieg's trip to California on Tuesday and Wednesday was going to include a series of fundraisers as well as a policy rollout.
South Bend officials said the shooting took place early Sunday after officers responded to reports of a person breaking into vehicles at an apartment complex. An officer attempted to engage with the suspect, who approached the officer with a knife, police said. That prompted the officer to fire his weapon, killing the 53-year-old suspect, Eric Logan, police said.
Speaking to the media Sunday, members of Logan's family questioned the veracity of the city's account, according to the South Bend Tribune.
"The incident is not adding up," said Logan's brother, Clifford Bonds of South Bend. "All we can do is wait. He got five kids, a wife, a mother, nieces, nephews, everybody, brothers and sisters, trying to figure out what's going on. And the story they're giving, everybody in the family knows that's not him, so that just makes it worse."
Buttigieg has faced controversy before related to the South Bend police force.
Shortly after taking office in 2020, he demoted then-South Bend Police Chief Darryl Boykins, who is black, after learning that the FBI was investigating Boykins for allegedly recording police officers without their consent.
The move set off multiple legal battles and protests from those who demanded that Buttigieg's administration release the tapes, believing they contained racist comments. Boykins was not charged and eventually received $50,000 from South Bend to settle claims related to the dispute, according to the Tribune.
Buttigieg has refused to publicize the recordings - or even listen to them - saying it would be illegal under the federal Wiretap Act.
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The Washington Post's Amy B Wang, Wesley Lowery and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.