Dayton FOP defends officers; Mayor: video ‘concerning’ of disabled man pulled from car

The Dayton FOP issued a statement Friday evening in defense of two officers who pulled a paraplegic man from a car during a traffic stop.

Clifford Owensby, 39, earlier this week said he felt helpless when he was removed from the car to the ground and handcuffed before he was placed in the back of a Dayton Police Department cruiser during the traffic stop around 12:30 p.m. Sept. 30 in the 1200 block of West Grand Avenue.

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A Dayton police body camera captured the 11-minute encounter with Owensby that is under review.

“The officers followed the law, their training and departmental policies and procedures,” Jerome Dix, president of Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #44, stated. “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.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Friday evening also issued a statement, saying the city remains committed to its ongoing community-led police reform process and providing transparency in such situations.

“The video of this police interaction is very concerning to me,” Whaley stated. “No matter where you live or what you look like, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when dealing with Dayton police. Immediately following this interaction, the city released the body camera footage and a full investigation is already underway.”

The two Dayton officers were part of a narcotics investigation in the Dayton View neighborhood when they stopped the white Audi driven by Owensby after narcotics detectives saw him leave a suspected drug house, according to an update from the Dayton Police Department on the investigation.

A K-9 team was called for a “free air sniff” due to crime trends in the area and Owensby’s criminal arrest history for gun and narcotics possession. The officers told Owensby that he would need to get out of the car, which is department policy. However, Owensby said he could not get out because he is paraplegic, and he refused their assistance. Owensby asked for a supervisor and continued to refuse commands or assistance to get out of the car.

“As the officers began to remove him from the vehicle, Owensby grabbed onto the steering wheel, in an attempt to prevent the officers from removing him from the vehicle. He was then forcibly removed from the vehicle. Officers placed Owensby on the ground in order to secure him. Officers had to pull his arms behind his back to handcuff him,” police said.

Terri Owensby, left, helps her brother, Clifford Owensby, out of his vehicle Monday Oct. 4, 2021. Clifford Owensby said he is a paraplegic and Dayton police pulled him out of his vehicle during a traffic stop. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
Terri Owensby, left, helps her brother, Clifford Owensby, out of his vehicle Monday Oct. 4, 2021. Clifford Owensby said he is a paraplegic and Dayton police pulled him out of his vehicle during a traffic stop. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

After the officers grabbed Owensby and moved him onto the ground, Owensby screamed for help and asked people in the area to record the interaction. After he was handcuffed, Owensby was taken to a local hospital, where he was examined and released, police said.

“A large bag of cash was found on the front floorboard containing $22,450. The narcotics K9 did alert on that money, meaning that the money had been in close proximity to illegal drugs,” police said.

A police report from the incident cites obstructing official business and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, in the crime status information. Owensby has not been charged with either count. He was cited in Dayton Municipal Court for traffic citations, child restraint because police said there was an unrestrained 3-year-old child in the back seat, and for tinted glass.

Matt Carper, the police department’s interim director and chief, also issued a statement Friday evening, which said in part that the department always strives to improve to meet its core values of professionalism, integrity, respect and fairness, and also that upcoming training for all Dayton officers and supervisors will include diversity, equity and inclusion; de-escalation; bias-free policing; and procedural justice.

“We need to do better, and this can be done by further developing the mutual respect and accountability to make our city safer,” Carper stated.