A Black paraplegic man in Dayton, Ohio, was violently pulled from his car by police, even after he repeatedly told the officers who pulled him over that he could not walk. The entire incident was captured in incredibly graphic and hard-to-watch bodycam footage that has since been released to the public.
NPR’s Joe Hernandez reported that “the Dayton Police Department says it’s investigating an incident last month in which several officers pulled a paraplegic man from his car after he told officers he was unable to get out.”
TW: Police violence
Ohio police officers drag a paraplegic Black man out of his car by his arms & hair during a traffic stop.😳
He asks for a supervisor & screams for help, and cops instead pin him down & ridicule him for “making it difficult.” Horrific.pic.twitter.com/UFAps84mfE
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) October 8, 2021
According to Hernandez, “officers stopped Clifford Owensby on Sept. 30 as he was driving away from what police say was a suspected drug house. Because of Owensby’s past felony drug and weapons history, officers wanted a police K-9 to conduct a ‘free-air’ sniff of the vehicle to determine if there were illegal drugs inside.”
In order to conduct the test, officers told Owensby he would have to step out of his car.
In body camera footage from the arresting officers, Owensby could repeatedly be heard telling the police surrounding him, “I cannot step out. I’m a paraplegic.” Owensby then requests a police supervisor, also known as a “white shirt.”
However, the unidentified officer speaking to Owensby says he’ll only call one after the man gets out of the car. When Owensby repeats that he is paraplegic and cannot do so without the assistance of a machine, the officer says, “You can cooperate and get out of the car, or I’ll drag you out of the car. Do you see your two options here?”
“Several officers then grab Owensby and yank him out of the car, pulling on his arms and hair as he cries out for help,” Hernandez reported. “The officers cuff Owensby’s hands behind his back and pull him away from the vehicle, his legs dragging along the street.”
Footage shows Clifford Owensby telling officers numerous times that he's disabled during a traffic stop
Sickening to say the leasthttps://t.co/ZoRyQ1j0A2
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) October 8, 2021
After news of the arrest was made public, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley issued a statement, saying, “the video of this police interaction is very concerning. That is why, immediately following this incident, the city released the body camera footage. Everyone involved is owed a thorough investigation, and one is already underway.”
In a statement, Derrick L. Foward, president of the NAACP’s Dayton chapter, said his group would also investigate Owensby’s arrest.
“To pull this man out of the car, by his hair — a paraplegic — is totally unacceptable, inhumane and sets a bad light on our great city of Dayton, Ohio,” he said.
Today we hosted a press conference with our client Clifford Owensby, who is physically challenged, to discuss Dayton Police interaction during a recent traffic stop.
To watch the full press conference click here:https://t.co/hJ39qpgTNn Thank you @aliahonair and @WDTN. pic.twitter.com/CXfzSpXqeG
— Dayton Unit NAACP (@DaytonUnitNAACP) October 11, 2021
Following the violent assault he endured, Owensby was charged for failing to properly restrain the three-year-old in the seat behind him and for having tinted windows in his car. Authorities also planned to charge him with obstructing police business and resisting arrest initially, but those charges were never filed.
Dayton Police also reported that they had found a bag with a large amount of cash in the car. During the search, K-9 drug dogs were also ‘“alerted,” suggesting the vehicle may have previously been in the vicinity of illegal drugs. However, no charges involving the money were filed.
The Dayton Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau is now conducting a complete investigation of the incident, and the group promises the results will be made public when it is complete.
— Aliah Williamson WDTN (@aliahonair) October 10, 2021
Owensby was taken to the hospital after being dragged to the ground and kneeled on and still has pain a month later. In a press conference, Owensby said he felt humiliated and fearful following the altercation as if he had been “kidnapped” by the police.
“If they were caught doing this on camera, I can only imagine what would’ve happened if they weren’t,” Owensby said. “Everything they did to me reminds me of the movie Roots. I felt like they were trying to catch a slave, threatening to tase me because I was crying out for help.”