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Man sues ex-sheriff, others over probe of his father’s death

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) – The son of a central Indiana man whose death from a gunshot wound was originally ruled a suicide is suing a former sheriff, a county coroner and six current or former deputies, alleging their “shoddy” investigation left many questions unanswered about his death.

Logan Owsley’s federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Indianapolis alleges obstruction of justice, conspiracy and negligence and seeks unspecified damages. It names as defendants former Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett, county coroner Larry Fisher, four current deputies and two former deputies.

The suit calls the death of Cary Owsley “suspicious” and notes several actions by investigators that it says hampered the investigation and violated his son’s constitutional rights.

Owsley was 49 when he died in April 2013 in his Columbus home from a gunshot wound to the chest. His death was ruled a suicide even though no suicide note was found and he was buried without Fisher ordering an autopsy despite the lack of “clear evidence of intent,” the suit states.

Owsley’s hands were not bagged by the deputies to preserve gunshot residue for testing, the suit states, and the bloody sweatshirt and T-shirt he was wearing had also not been preserved for testing. In addition, it states that while three bullet holes were found in the wall of the home, officers documented only one hole in their reports.

Fisher declined to comment on the suit and directed calls to county attorney Grant Tucker, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Gorbett also did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Owsley, who was African-American, was married to the ex-wife of one of the deputies who responded to the shooting scene. The suit says Owsley’s wife called police to report that her husband had “shot himself” inside their home.

Her deputy ex-husband was off-duty but arrived at the home and helped another deputy move Owsley’s body, the suit states.

Three months after Owsley’s death, Gorbett suspended that man and two other deputies for “errors in judgment” during the investigation.

Two forensic pathologists who examined Owsley’s body after it was exhumed following a court battle initiated by his sister ruled that his manner of death was undetermined.

Owsley died from a gunshot wound to the chest, but the suit states that neither pathologist was able to determine “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Cary’s manner of death was homicide, suicide, or accidental.”