Man who died in Ohio police custody had
1216IOHcopprobeA.p11 William A. Weathers
Copyright 2000 The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
December 12, 2000, Tuesday FINAL EDITION
(COLLEGE HILL, Ohio) -- The father of a 29-year-old College Hill man who died Nov. 7 in police custody has written Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, relaying witnesses' allegations of police harassment in the investigation of the case. Three witnesses "have contacted me concerning their treatment by police and (investigators)," Roger Owensby Sr. said in the letter to the mayor. The witnesses "are being harassed, intimidated and tamper(ed) with."
From his home Monday night, Mr. Owensby said: "It made me mad. I had to let other people know." Roger Owensby Jr. died of mechanical asphyxia within minutes of his apprehension by police at Roselawn gas station, a Hamilton County coroner ruled.
The five officers involved in the arrest are on paid administrative leave while the police division investigates the death, which created a public outcry from residents and public officials who allege a police cover-up and racial profiling.
Mr. Owensby Sr. did not identify the witnesses who have spoken to him. In his letter, he said they complained of being questioned up to six times on their recollections of that night in Roselawn, of taking multiple lie-detector tests and of being threatened by officers that they would be handcuffed and hauled into police headquarters if they did not comply with requests for more questioning.
Mayor Luken could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said that he had no knowledge of the letter, but that he had met with the Owensby family Monday to update them on the progress of the case.
He asked that anyone with specific complaints of mistreatment by police officers should contact his office.
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