Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Officer loses police powers

Spellen testified against Jorg in Owensby case

By Jennifer Edwards jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati police officer whose cruiser videotape was a key piece of evidence in the involuntary manslaughter trial of another officer has lost his police powers.

        Officer Victor Spellen was reassigned to the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit Thursday, Lt. Terri Theetge confirmed Sunday.

        Officer Spellen, 34, said Monday his police powers had been removed because of the internal investigation into the November 2000 asphyxiation death of Roger Owensby Jr., while in police custody in Roselawn.

        Officer Spellen said “complications” came up during the internal investigation.

        Officer Spellen's reassignment may not be directly related to events surrounding Mr. Owensby's death, said Lt. Kirt Byrd, police spokesman.

        Officer Spellen arrived at the scene after police put Mr. Owensby in the back of a cruiser Nov. 7, 2000, in a gas station parking lot, court records show.

        His cruiser video taped Officer Robert “Blaine” Jorg telling his supervisor that he had Mr. Owensby's head in a “wrap.” After he was placed in the cruiser, officers noticed Mr. Owensby was not responsive; he died shortly thereafter. Officer Spellen testified for the prosecution in Officer Jorg's trial. Officer Jorg was among Officer Spellen's training officers after he graduated from the police academy.

        Officer Jorg was acquitted on an assault charge but the jury could not decide on the more serious allegation of involuntary manslaughter. He quit Cincinnati police this year to accept a job in Pierce Township.

        The FBI is investigating Mr. Owensby's death to determine whether the U.S. Department of Justice should seek federal civil rights charges against officers involved.


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