The Dayton Police Department is launching an investigation after body cam footage reveals what appears to be officers pulling a Black paraplegic man out of his car during a traffic stop in Ohio last month.
On Friday, the city of Dayton and the Dayton Police Department shared body cam footage of a Sept. 30 traffic stop involving Clifford Owensby. In the 12-minute video — which was presented in a news briefing — police are heard saying that due to previous drug charges on his record, officers needed K-9 to conduct a “free-air sniff” through Owensby’s car which required him to exit the vehicle.
In the footage, Owensby then tells officers that he’s a paraplegic and can’t get out by himself, noting that he received assistance getting in to the car from family. When an officer asks to help him, Owensby requests that the officer call his supervisor instead. He was denied that request.
“You can cooperate and get out of the car, or I can drag you out of the car,” one of the officers tells Owensby, as heard in the clip. “You see your two options here?”
“I’m a paraplegic, bro, you can hurt me!” Owensby responds before asking for the officer’s supervisor again.
Officers then can be seen appearing to grab Owensby by his hair and pulling him out of the vehicle and onto the ground as he held onto the steering wheel. Police then handcuff him on the ground and drag him to their squad car, the clip shows.
According to police, Owensby was then taken to a local hospital for examination and was released. Owensby recalled the “inhumane” incident during a press conference on Sunday.
“They dragged me to their vehicle like a dog, like trash,” Owensby said, WDTN reports. “I have nightmares. I should not have to leave out of my house every day wondering if this is going to happen to me again.”
He added, “If they would’ve had the proper equipment out there to assist me with getting out of the car and I would’ve felt no threat, I would’ve let them assist me getting out of the vehicle to conduct their search.”
The head of Dayton’s police union later defended the actions taken by the officers involved.
“The officers followed the law, their training and departmental policies and procedures,” Jerome Dix, president of Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44, said in a statement to the Dayton Daily News. “Sometimes the arrest of noncompliant individuals is not pretty, but is a necessary part of law enforcement to maintain public safety.”
During Sunday’s conference, Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Forward announced that Owensby filed a complaint with the organization against the department “for profiling him, unlawful arrest and illegal search and seizure of his vehicle.”
Foward said, “We’re not talking about his past. We’re not talking about the activity by which the officer was conducting a search or drug activity. We’re talking about this incident and how the incident was handled,” per WDTN.
He then called on a proper investigation on the incident. On Oct. 1, the Professional Standards Bureau launched an investigation which will include a review of the police department’s policies, procedures and training, according to the police briefing.
The investigation is still ongoing. On Friday, Matt Carper, the police department’s interim director and chief, announced that all Dayton officers and supervisors will participate in training that will include diversity, equity and inclusion as well as deescalation, bias-free policing and procedural justice, according to USA Today.
“We need to do better, and this can be done by further developing the mutual respect and accountability to make our city safer,” Carper stated, the outlet reports.
Our hearts go out to him — and we hope he files a FAT lawsuit against the Dayton Police Department.