Thursday, March 27, 2014

Officer Cory Owensby Charged with Several Felonies

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer faces multiple felony charges after he was indicted Thursday following an internal affairs investigation into evidence mishandling that began nearly one year ago.

Patrolman Cory Owensby turned himself in Thursday morning after a special grand jury returned indictments on five felony counts of official misconduct. He also face five misdemeanor counts of criminal conversion and three misdemeanor counts of false informing.

He was released on his own recognizance after appearing before a judge Thursday.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite suspended Owensby without pay late Thursday and said he would recommend the Civilian Police Merit Board terminate his employment with the department.

Owensby, an IMPD Officer since 2007, is the son of Fraternal Order of Police Local 86 President Bill Owensby. Hite said that did not play a role in his investigation.

“He is a member of the IMPD. He is an officer in our department, no different than any other officer in the department. We’ll respect his tenure, but no different than anyone else on the team,” Hite said Thursday.

I-Team 8’s calls to Bill Owensby and the FOP were not returned Thursday.

Owensby was placed on paid administrative duty last fall. That’s when internal affairs investigators were first tipped off that he had allegedly mishandled evidence in at least five different cases, beginning in late 2012, according to the indictment.

Court documents obtained by I-Team 8 show Owensby is accused of failing to turn over key evidence in relation to those cases, including marijuana, prescription pills, drug paraphernalia like pipes and rolling papers, and a steel axe.

Hite acknowledged that could impact the prosecution of those cases, but downplayed the significance.

“We’re looking at what the impact has been,” he said. “But, it wasn’t a widespread kind of case where we can show chapter and verse [that] there were multiple, multiple cases impacted. At this point, we’re still looking into that.”

IMPD has dealt with other recent evidence problems as well. Blood vials were mishandled in the David Bisard case, and cocaine evidence was mistakenly destroyed by property room employees earlier this year.

Despite that, Hite says critical changes have already been made.

“We’re currently recreating a new environment within that whole spear of evidence collection and property room,” he said. “And you’re seeing, as we stated, a change in management systems, internal records management systems. You’re seeing the results of that.”

Internal investigators were also the ones to open the case, Hite noted.

“I think you’ll find it, I think, refreshing to know that this was an internal process and internal audit. We caught this. So, don’t let that go by you. We found this. Our processes work,” he said.

Hite turned over his investigators findings to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, who requested a special prosecutor. Jefferson County Prosecutor D.J. Mote was assigned to the case.

Speaking by phone with I-Team Thursday, Mote said additional details of the case are not being made public at this time because the indictments were handed down by a six-member special grand jury.

Owensby is scheduled to return to court in May.

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