Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Witness: Owensby untouched by Caton

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        At first, witnesses said Cincinnati Police Officer Patrick Caton struck Roger Owensby Jr. after his hands were cuffed and he was lying prone in a Roselawn gas station parking lot.

        Then, they said the blows were delivered when only one of Mr. Owensby's hands was restrained.

        On Tuesday, Cincinnati Police Officer Abraham Lawson said he didn't see Officer Caton touch Mr. Owensby, who died that night, Nov. 7, 2000, after he was tackled by police.

        “He was kind of moving from side to side,” said Officer Lawson, who was in charge of controlling the crowd that night and couldn't always see what the officers were doing. He was standing more than 15 feet away.

Complete coverage in our special section.
        Officer Lawson said two other officers — Robert “Blaine” Jorg and David Hunter — were the ones who struck Mr. Owensby, 29, of College Hill. Only one hand seemed to be cuffed.

        Defense attorney Merlyn Shiverdecker asked Officer Lawson whether he saw Officer Caton strike Mr. Owensby.

        “No, I didn't,” he replied.

        Testimony continues today in the misdemeanor assault trial of Officer Caton, who is working in the Cincinnati Police Division's impound lot pending the trial's outcome. If convicted, he could serve up to six months in prison.

        City Prosecutor Ernest McAdams contends that Officer Caton hit Mr. Owensby while he was handcuffed on the ground and, later, when he was placed in a police cruiser. Mr. Shiverdecker has countered that the blows were a permissible use of force.


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