CINCINNATI – A former Cincinnati police officer acquitted of assault in the death of a black man has filed a $30 million federal lawsuit accusing city and county officials of ruining his career and reputation by unfairly blaming him for the death.
Robert Jorg, 30, was charged with misdemeanor assault and a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter in the Nov. 7, 2000, death of Roger Owensby Jr. A Hamilton County Common Pleas jury in October 2001 acquitted Jorg of the assault charge but deadlocked on the manslaughter charge, which was later dropped by the county prosecutor.
Jorg's lawsuit against the city, the county and the county coroner was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
It claims that city and county authorities made Jorg a "scapegoat" for Owensby's death. The lawsuit claims city officials wanted Jorg, who is white, to be charged with a crime to appease blacks who were unhappy with police conduct.
City attorneys on Tuesday declined comment on the lawsuit. There was no answer Tuesday night to calls to the county prosecutor's office.
The lawsuit also disputes county Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott's finding that Owensby, 29, died of mechanical asphyxiation from a choke hold applied by Jorg or from officers piling on top of him.
The lawsuit says Parrott knowingly gave false autopsy results. Parrott on Tuesday declined comment on the lawsuit.
Owensby died after Jorg and several other officers wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him as he fled from attempts to question him about drug trafficking. Witnesses said at least five officers helped tackle and subdue Owensby, but one witness claimed that Jorg put a "choke hold" on him.
Jorg's attorney, Bill Gustavson, said Owensby's death was a "cardiac event" and not the result of asphyxiation. He would not elaborate but said that medical experts would support his theory.
Owensby's mother, Brenda, said her family disputes Jorg's claims about the cause of death.
"We know better," she said.
Jorg is now a police officer in suburban Pierce Township.