Oct 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Video shows Black man with paraplegia dragged from car by Ohio police

Bodycam footage showing Dayton police officers allegedly dragging Clifford Owensby, who has paraplegia, from his car on Sept. 30.

Bodycam footage showing Dayton police officers allegedly dragging Clifford Owensby, who has paraplegia, from his car on Sept. 30. Photo: Dayton Police Department/Dayton, Ohio - City Government

The Dayton Police Department's Professional Standards Bureau is investigating the arrest of a Black man with paraplegia after he was allegedly dragged from his car during a traffic stop in the Ohio city last month.

Why it matters: Newly released bodycam footage shows Clifford Owensby having his hair pulled as he's pulled from his car during his Sept. 30 arrest. He can be heard moments earlier telling a police officer, "I can't step outside the car, sir. I'm a paraplegic," adding that he'd received help getting into the vehicle.

  • The 39-year-old declines an officer's offer to help him get out of the vehicle but asks for the attendance of a supervisor.
  • An officer tells him he "can cooperate and get out of this car" or the police will "drag" him out. Owensby screams for help as he's pulled from the car, "I'm a paraplegic, bro, you can hurt me!" before he's handcuffed.

Of note: "Dayton police were already under scrutiny after Jack Runser, a man who is deaf and mute, and has cerebral palsy, sued the department, saying he was injured and mistreated by police during a 2020 arrest," the Washington Post notes.

Driving the news: Police said at a briefing Friday that they stopped Owensby after seeing his car leaving a suspected drug house and wanted to conduct an "open-air sniff" test.

  • They allege a bag containing $22,450 in cash was found on the front floorboard.
  • Police said Owensby had an unrestrained 3-year-old in the back seat, so officers cited him for transporting a child without a car seat and for tinted glass.

What to watch: The Dayton Unit NAACP president Derrick Foward confirmed to WashPost on Saturday night that Owensby had filed a complaint with the civil rights group, which was working "hand-in-hand" with his legal counsel.

  • "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," Foward told WashPost.

What they're saying: Dayton police interim chief Matt Carper said in a statement that "upcoming training for all Dayton Police Officers and Supervisors will include diversity, equity, and inclusion, de-escalation, bias-free policing, and procedural justice."

  • "We need to do better," Carper adds. "And this can be done by further developing the mutual respect and accountability necessary to make our City safer."
  • Jerome Dix, president of Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, told the Dayton Daily News the officers involved had followed the law, adding: "Sometimes the arrest of noncompliant individuals is not pretty, but is a necessary part of law enforcement to maintain public safety."
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