PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates has learned that the City of Pittsburgh has hired renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu to review the medical files and evidence in the death of Jim Rogers.
Rogers died in the hospital the day after a Pittsburgh police officer tased him multiple times.
The officer, who was investigating a report of a stolen bicycle in Bloomfield last fall, said that Rogers would not comply with his commands.
Dr. Omalu rose to fame back in the early 2000′s while working in the Allegheny County Coroner’s office.
He was the first to link Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, to a former NFL player.
The groundbreaking discovery was the subject of a Hollywood movie. Actor Will Smith played Omalu.
Omalu, who runs a private lab in California, responded to questions from 11 Investigates in an email.
“We have not received any retainer fee payment yet, and we have not done any work on this case yet. Also, I cannot speak with you on an open case, unless the attorneys give me the authorization to do so. I am not directly involved with the case, and I do not know the details of the case. All I am doing is addressing specific scientific questions I have been given regarding case-specific and general causation. Outside these questions, I do not know the details of the case,” Omalu wrote in the email.
11 Investigates learned that the City of Pittsburgh Controller’s office cut Omalu a $10,000 check on Tuesday.
The mayor’s office declined to comment on his hiring.
Omalu’s findings haven’t been without controversy.
In 2017, anchor Lisa Sylvester spoke with Omalu after he suggested that parents who let their children play football should be charged with child abuse.
“Knowing what we know today, why would you place a helmet on a child and send him out to a field to suffer brain damage?” said Omalu.
It’s unclear why the city waited this long to bring in Omalu and how much of a role he will play as the city prepares to defend the firing of Officer Keith Edmonds at arbitration.
The City initially fired four officers for excessive force, and failing to get Rogers medical attention at the scene.
Two of those officers have already been reinstated with back pay, and a third officer is expected to get his job back as well. Edmonds appears to be the only officer whose future with the police bureau is still up in the air.
The city also agreed to pay the Rogers family a record $8 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, even before Omalu was brought in to evaluate the evidence.
Sources said the city may be relying on Omalu’s findings to convince an arbitrator that Edmond’s firing was appropriate and should be upheld.
The medical examiner ruled the death accidental and said Rogers died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
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