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Dayton Cop Seen In Video Dragging Paraplegic Man By His Hair From Car After He Refused Officer Assistance

The Dayton Police Department is facing investigations and litigation after a paraplegic man was pulled from his vehicle.

By Constance Johnson
Dayton Police Probed After Paraplegic Man Pulled From Car

The Dayton Police Department is investigating an incident that occurred last month in which a Black man, who is a paraplegic, was pulled from his car after telling officers he was unable to exit the vehicle as they'd commanded.

Clifford Owensby, 39, has filed a complaint with the NAACP against the department for profiling him, unlawful arrest and illegal search, and seizure of his vehicle, Dayton NAACP President Derrick Forward said, according to local station WHIO.

Owensby called the incident “inhumane,” during a press conference, the station reported.

“[They had] no respect for me, no regard for my well-being,” he said.

Owensby attorney James Willis confirmed to Oxygen.com that he plans to file a lawsuit, adding that they are still investigating the case and need to collect more evidence.

“They brutalized him. It reminded me of Rodney King, only it was more of them,” Willis said. “Nobody is above the law. Do police have the right to snatch people out of their cars for no reason… Whether it’s legal not. That’s called a police state.… That’s the way they acted in Nazi Germany. We have a Democracy over here.”

Owensby was stopped by Dayton police officers on September 30. He was driving away from what police describe as a “suspected drug house.” Officers said they wanted a narcotics bureau K-9 to search the vehicle because they discovered Owensby’s felony and weapons history after checking his identification, police said in a video briefing.

An officer asked Owensby to step out of his car, police said, to which he replied, “I cannot step out.” Owens then told police he is paraplegic. The officer then told Owensby that he would help him out.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, sir,” Owensby said, according to the department.

At one point, Owensby told the officer that there will be a lawsuit if hands are placed on him for no reason.

“Well, the reason is that I’m asking you to get out of the car,” the officer replied, police said. Later, the officer told Owensby: “You can cooperate and get out of the car or I’ll drag you out of the car. Do you see your options here?” 

In the video, an officer is seen pulling Owensby by the hair and dragging him out of the car. Another officer grabbed Owensby by the hair, turned him over on his stomach, and handcuffed him. They then dragged him to the police cruiser.

Owensby can be heard screaming for help throughout the encounter. An unrestrained three-year-old child was in the back of the vehicle during the altercation with police.

The K-9 found a bag containing $22,450 on the floorboard of the car. 

Owensby was cited for failing to restrain a child in the backseat and having a tint on his windows; he was also cited for obstructing official business and resisting arrest, but he was not charged with either offense, according to the Dayton Daily News.

“The video of this police interaction is very concerning. That is why, immediately following this incident, the city released the body camera footage," Mayor Nan Whaley said in a statement. “Everyone involved is owed a thorough investigation, and one is already underway. This incident shows why our community-led police reform process, which includes providing transparency, is more important than ever. The goal is always to ensure our police force has the resources to do its job, while treating all of our citizens with dignity and respect.”

The officers involved in the incident have not been publicly named by the department. Jerome Dix, president of Dayton FOP Lodge #44, released a statement defending the officers. 

“The officers followed the law, their training and departmental policies and procedures,” Dix said, according to the Dayton Daily News. “Sometimes the arrest of non-compliant individuals is not pretty, but is a necessary part of law enforcement to maintain public safety, which is one of the fundamental ideologies of our society.”

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