Timeline: How the Clifford Owensby incident with Dayton police unfolded, became national news

It’s been more than two weeks since a traffic stop in which Dayton police officers pulled a paraplegic man from his vehicle. Since then, a protest outside city hall was held, local leaders have expressed concern and national and local civil rights groups have called for action regarding the case that has made international news.

Thursday, Sept. 30: Pulled out of car

Clifford Owensby was observed by narcotics detectives leaving a Dayton residence where suspected narcotic transactions were being conducted, the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police said.

At 12:27 p.m., a police report says officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle due to an equipment violation at the intersection of West Grand Avenue and Ferguson Avenue. An 11-minute body camera video shows officers interacting with Owensby and eventually asking him to exit the vehicle. Owensby tells officers that he is paraplegic and cannot exit the vehicle. The video shows the officers and Owensby arguing over him exiting the vehicle -- the officers say they will assist him out while Owensby asks the officers to call a supervisor to the scene.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The body camera footage shows officers yanking Owensby by the hair and arm out of the vehicle and onto the road. They eventually handcuff him and put him in the back of a police cruiser.

Police said that they recovered more than $22,000 from the vehicle. Owensby told the newspaper that the money was his savings.

Video filmed by a bystander in the area was uploaded onto social media the same day, and the footage received hundreds of shares and comments over the weekend.

Monday, Oct. 4: ‘They don’t even respect me.’

Clifford Owensby spoke to the Dayton Daily News in his first interview about the incident.

“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” Owensby said.

That same day, Dayton Police released a statement saying that the Dayton Professional Standards Bureau was investigating the incident and requested that citizens be patient and reserve judgment until all the facts in the case are discovered. They also said that the investigation results would be released to the public.

Thursday, Oct. 7: ‘We need to do better’

Dayton Interim Director and Chief of Police Matt Carper released a message to the community and said officers and supervisors will complete training including 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 necessary to make our city safer,” Carper said in the message.

Friday, Oct. 8: ‘The officers followed the law’

The local FOP released a statement defending the officers.

“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.”

Also, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley 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.”

Sunday, Oct. 10: Dayton NAACP speaks

The Dayton Unit of the NAACP held a press conference with Owensby, who is Black, and said that a complaint has been filed “for profiling him, unlawful arrest and illegal search and seizure of his vehicle. He was not read his rights before taken to jail, that is his complaint for our office.”

Monday, Oct. 11: National attention gained

The National Urban League called for the officers involved to be dismissed and prosecuted.

“The violence these officers inflicted on a man with a disability who poses no threat whatsoever is painful to watch,” NUL President and CEO Marc H. Morial said in a statement. “The senselessness of repeatedly ordering him to walk when he clearly says he cannot is mind-boggling. This is the behavior of officers so drunk with power they believe their own authority supersedes the laws of physics.”

Tuesday, Oct. 12: ‘The need for more de-escalation training’

The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus released a statement saying that the Dayton incident underlined the need for police reform in the state.

“I am saddened by the actions that I have seen displayed on the body camera footage of the officer who removed Clifford Owensby from his vehicle,” Rep. Willis Blackshear said in a statement. “This incident demonstrates the need for more de-escalation training, and also demonstrates the importance of body cameras. There is no way for us to change the events that happened, but we must continue to work to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Also that day, a group of concerned citizens organized and announced that they planned to protest at the Dayton City Commission meeting.

Wednesday, Oct. 13: Protests at City Hall

Nine speakers addressed the Dayton City Commission condemning the actions of the officers involved in the traffic stop. They called for the officers to be terminated or suspended without pay. After the public comment, Whaley began speaking about the incident but was interrupted by Owensby and some of his supporters who left the meeting while it was in progress.

Some who walked out joined a group of protestors outside who chanted and spoke about the need for change in policing in Dayton. Owensby’s mother, Caroline Smith spoke during the protest outside.

“I’m angry and upset, not just for my son but for every Black man, every Black woman,” she said.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

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