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Bar Owner Charged in Death of Former Officer Who Tortured Drug Suspect

March 11, 1991

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ Police charged a bar owner Monday in the shooting death of a former police officer who admitted torturing a drug suspect with a hot clothes iron last year.

Bert Watts, 54, pleaded innocent to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the death of John Gamble.

Gamble, 29, was fired in July after he admitted pressing a hot clothes iron against a drug suspect’s stomach and chest during a raid on an apartment.

Gamble was shot Sunday about 5 a.m., police Maj. Gerold Morgan said. He said police don’t know what might have prompted the shooting.

″The only thing I can tell you is that they (Gamble and Watts) have a history of bad feelings,″ Morgan said. ″I don’t have any indication other than that.″

Watts told police he shot Gamble in self-defense, the Dayton Daily News reported Monday. Watts told police that when he went outside the bar to check on a noise, he encountered Gamble, who was carrying a knife, the newspaper said.

In another incident, Watts hit Gamble over the head with a baseball bat Sept. 25 at the bar. Gamble refused to prosecute the case.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Greaney set bond Monday at $25,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing March 18.

A conviction on the charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Two other officers were fired with Gamble after the drug raid in January 1990. Gamble said he was trying to extract information from David Greer, 18, when he pressed the iron to Greer’s bare stomach and chest.

The city paid Greer $300,000 to settle a lawsuit. He is serving a prison term for drug trafficking.

Gamble had been the subject of at least a dozen other complaints of police brutality since 1988, the Daily News said.

In June, a Dayton man accused Gamble of menacing when Gamble allegedly forced a gun in the man’s mouth and threatened to kill him. A judge acquitted Gamble, but an internal police investigation concluded he was guilty.

Update hourly