Dayton police investigate after video shows disabled man pulled from car by officers

Body camera footage shows the interaction between Dayton police officers and a paraplegic man who would not exit his vehicle during a traffic stop and was yanked from the car and onto the road.

Clifford Owensby, the man pulled from his vehicle during a traffic stop Thursday, told the Dayton Daily News Monday afternoon that he felt helpless as officers put him on the ground, handcuffed him and then placed him into the back of a cruiser. The incident took place in the 1200 block of West Grand Avenue, according to a report.

Owensby, who said he does not have use of his legs, said he was injured during the incident, having sustained scrapes from the pavement and is still in pain. He also said that a previous back injury was reinjured.

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“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” Owensby said, adding that the way he felt treated made him feel low.

Some of the encounter between Owensby and the police officers was captured by a bystander who filmed it from across the street. The video has received hundreds of shares and comments online.

The 11-minute police body camera footage obtained from the Dayton Police Department shows two officers interacting with Owensby as they obtain his license and information. The video shows one officer test the tint on the glass of the vehicle and then sees a child in the backseat of the vehicle and not in a car seat. The officer then goes back to the cruiser.

The video then shows an officer return to Owensby and asks him to step out of the vehicle. Owensby tells the officer he can’t.

“I’m paraplegic,” Owensby says. “I got help getting in.”

“Well, I’ll help you get out,” the officer replies.

“Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen, sir,” Owensby says.

The officer tells Owensby that due to his history, which includes drug charges, they are going to get a K-9 to do a free air smell around the vehicle and Owensby must exit the car.

The officer again tells Owensby that he is going to assist him out of the vehicle and Owensby again tells the officer that he isn’t. He says that there will be a lawsuit if the officer puts his hands on him. Owensby then calls a family member to come to the scene and to bring people with cameras.

The officer and Owensby continue to argue about him leaving the vehicle and Owensby requests that the officer call a superior to the scene.

“Here’s the thing, I’m going to pull you out and then I’ll call a white shirt,” the officer says. “Because you’re getting out of the car. That’s not an option. You’re getting out this car, so you can cooperate and get out of the car or I will drag you out of the car. Do you see your two options here?”

It is around this time that the officers grab Owensby and remove him from the vehicle and onto the road. Owensby screams for help and asks that people in the area record the interaction.

Dayton Police said they are aware of the incident and the professional standards bureau is currently investigating.

“The investigation will include the review of any policies and training when encountering these situations. Detectives from the Professional Standards Bureau have already interviewed the driver in the video.

We ask the public to please be patient while all of the facts are gathered so we may have a clear understanding of what occurred and why in order to make informed decisions and continue to improve services,” Dayton Police said.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

They said the results of the investigation will be shared with the public so that residents can make conclusions based on all evidence, the department said. It said that it is committed to transparency and accountability.

The statement from the department says that the incident was part of a drug investigation and traffic stop. Owensby told the Dayton Daily News there were no drugs or firearms in the vehicle. Dayton police said $22,450 was recovered from the vehicle that a narcotic canine alerted on.

“There is a current and active investigation concerning the money,” Dayton police told the Dayton Daily News.

A police report from the incident cites misdemeanor obstructing official business and misdemeanor resisting arrest in the crime status information. He has not been charged with either count.

He was cited in Dayton Municipal Court with traffic citations child restraint or seat belt and tinted glass.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein also issued a statement Monday afternoon.

“As in any situation where a city employee’s actions are in question, we commit to completing a thorough review to ensure that we are held accountable to the public,” she said. “It is our goal to not only maintain high standards and expectations now, but continuously improve to meet and exceed the future expectations.”

Owensby said that he hopes the incident results in change.

“I’m hoping for some kind of disciplinary action and furthermore, I wish that this doesn’t happen to no one else. This is unacceptable. We’re supposed to have officers out here to serve and protect and when we lose faith in them doing that, who do we turn to?”

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