Paraplegic man pulled from car by Ohio officers during traffic stop

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 2:30 AM MST
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DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) - A paraplegic man in Ohio was forcefully removed from his car by police officers during a traffic stop. He says the incident is an example of racial profiling, and he hopes national attention will spark real change.

Clifford Owensby, who is Black, says he’s still grappling with the trauma of his Sept. 30 arrest by officers with the Dayton Police Department. He told police he was paraplegic and couldn’t exit the vehicle during a traffic stop. Body camera footage shows officers pulled Owensby from the car by his hair.

Owensby says he’s a businessman and was picking up cable boxes at one of his properties on the day of the incident. He pulled over when he heard the police siren.

Body camera footage released by DPD show officers telling Owensby to get out of the car. He says, “I can’t step out of the car, sir. I’m a paraplegic.” He asks to speak with a supervisor.

The footage then shows officers dragging Owensby out of the car while he screams for help.

“This is it. This is how I go out, just like every other black man I watch go out on TV, and this is my turn,” Owensby said. “The way that they had treated me during that traffic stop, I only feel like I’ve seen… I was an actor in the movie out of ‘Roots,’ a movie I was taught growing up about racists and slaves.”

The Dayton Fraternal Order of Police issued a report Friday after an internal investigation, saying the officers followed the law.

Police said in a community incident briefing that Owensby visited a suspected drug house while officers were monitoring it. Based on that and Owensby’s felony drug and weapon history, they requested a Narcotics Detection K-9 for a sniff on his vehicle.

Police say the K-9 alerted them to over $22,000 in Owensby’s car.

Owensby’s complaint with the NAACP says the arrest was unlawful and that he was racially profiled and judged on mistakes from his past and the community he lives in. The complaint also states there was an illegal search and seizure of Owensby’s property and that he was never read his Miranda Rights.

The NAACP says the officers’ defense is an example of systemic racism.

“Since the assumption that because they are from a particular community, a particular culture, then we assume, unfortunately, sometimes criminality just based on that,” said Mattie P. White, vice president of Dayton’s NAACP.

The NAACP says it is critical to note that Owensby was compliant with officers throughout the process until officers got aggressive with him. They are demanding accountability from the DPD.

Dr. Derek Forward, the president of Dayton’s NAACP, wants police to train officers on an ongoing basis to respond with empathy when working with disenfranchised communities. He added that implicit bias trainings must be monitored to measure their impact.

“I think this type of stuff probably happens all the time. I’m just thankful. If they were willing to do all of that stuff while the cameras were rolling, I can only imagine what would have happened if no cameras was rolling,” Owensby said.

The NAACP is working closely with Owensby’s attorney to determine next steps in the case.

DPD says they have addressed the majority of the community’s 142 police reform recommendations since June 2020.

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