Secret Tapes Reportedly Suggest Pete Buttigieg Fired South Bend’s Black Police Chief Due To Donor Pressure

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivers a 20-minute campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair August 13, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A bombshell report by TYT Investigates reveals legal documents that suggest Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg fired South Bend’s first black police chief, Darryl Boykins, due to a plan by white police officers to pressure him via his campaign donors.

In particular, the documents detail secret phone recordings of South Bend police phone lines in which officers describe their plan to use two of Buttigieg’s donors, Sam Hensley and Steve Luecke — who deny having any such discussions with the Mayor — to oust Boykins from the South Bend Police Department (SBPD).

“It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,” one officer is quoted as saying in the documents.

Although the plan was concocted without Buttigieg’s knowledge — they reportedly called him a “little f*cking squirt” on the recordings — the report claims he learned of the secret SBPD police recordings in January of 2012. Buttigieg asked Boykins to resign two months later but eventually rescinding the resignation due to outage from the black community and demoted Boykins instead.

SBPD Chief Scott Ruszkowski and the current county prosecutor, Ken Cotte, reportedly suggested replacements for Boykins, although it’s unclear if either were aware of the secret plan.

According to the report, Buttigieg campaign National Press Secretary Chris Meagher suggested the documents were nothing more than unproven “rumors,” although he did not comment further than that.

Interestingly, Buttigieg has claimed that he is curious as to what the recordings say, although the documents reportedly show that his lawyers reportedly asked Karen DePaepe — who overheard the conversations and was fired for her role in the scandal — to describe what she heard. According to DePaepe, the conversation she overheard regarding Boykins led her to believe that the purported plan against him was crafted due to his race.

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“I believe this because they were talking in ebonics, and it made me believe they wanted to get rid of Boykins because he was black. No comments were made as to him not performing his duties, just that he protects gang members.”

The recordings also reference three black officers as targets, all of whom did not receive promotions after Buttigieg was elected; only one remains on the force.

The bombshell recordings don’t bode well for Buttigieg, who Vanity Fair reports has already faced backlash for his handling of the Boykins situation and his approach to dealing with the black South Bend community.

“To a lot of African Americans, it’s damn near disqualifying, because it’s a front and center issue that’s on the minds of a lot of African American voters and Hispanic voters,” said Cornell Belcher, an American progressive pollster.