Police in Ohio pulled a paraplegic Black man from his vehicle and threw him to the ground during a traffic stop in Dayton, according to bodycam footage. The video shows how Clifford Owensby had his hair pulled as he was forcibly removed from his car during the Sept. 30 arrest.
In the video, Owensby can be heard telling officers he’s paraplegic. “I can’t get out of the vehicle sir,” Owensby said. The officer tells Owensby he needs to get out of the car so a dog could smell for drugs. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, sir,” Owensby replies. After some more back and forth the officer makes clear he isn’t asking Owens but rather telling him what must happen. “You can cooperate and get out of the car, or I can drag you out of the car,” the officer says. “You see your two options here?” The officers then pull Owensby out of his car. “I’m a paraplegic, bro, you can hurt me!” Owensby can be heard screaming before he’s handcuffed.
Owensby has filed a complaint with the Dayton Unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which will investigate the incident. “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,” Derrick L. Forward, the president of the NAACP’s Dayton unit told the Washington Post. He said Owensby continues to feel anguished over what happened. “He felt he was treated inhumanely, like a dog on the street,” Foward said. “He felt officers did not have empathy for him.”
Police say Owensby was leaving a suspected drug house and had an unrestrained three-year-old in the back seat of his vehicle. The Dayton Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau is investigating the incident. Dayton police interim chief Matt Carper issued a statement saying that “upcoming training for all Dayton Police Officers and Supervisors will include diversity, equity, and inclusion, de-escalation, bias-free policing, and procedural justice.” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley issued a statement calling the video “very concerning,” adding that “everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when dealing with Dayton Police.”
Even as investigations are launched, the head of Dayton’s police union defended the way the officers acted. “The officers followed the law, their training, and department policies and procedures,” Jerome A. Dix said. “Sometimes the arrest of noncompliant 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.”