Dayton city leaders respond to demand for changes after police pull Owensby from car

Credit: Eileen McClory/ Marshall Gorby

Caption

Credit: Eileen McClory/ Marshall Gorby

Dayton leaders responded Wednesday as protesters outside and inside City Hall demanded changes in the city’s policing policies, the result of a viral video of officers dragging Clifford Owensby, a paraplegic Black man, from his vehicle on Sept. 30.

Mayor Nan Whaley responded to comments about the city’s police reform work that started last year following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police.

Whaley said Dayton’s police reform work is far from over and the city is committed to the work in the long term.

ExploreRELATED: Owensby storms out of Dayton commission meeting as protests call for change

“We are committed to making sure we have a place where people are treated fairly and that everybody in our community is treated with dignity and respect – full stop,” she said.

Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said the video of Clifford Owensby being pulled from a car was disturbing. He asked for the community to be patient as the city works through the process of trying to improve policing in the city .

Commissioner Darryl Fairchild, who is paralyzed, said watching the video was a “kick in the gut.” He said the city must do better, and he thinks “cultural competency” training could help police better understand people with disabilities.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims Jr. said he understands why the community is upset because he is too.

Mims said the city launched the police reform process to try to prevent these kinds of situations. But he said the police reform process helped bring this incident to light.

“When we look at what happened with Mr. Owensby, we would not have this data had it not been for the recommendation from my committee that said, ‘Let’s have body cameras,’” Mims said.

ExplorePHOTOS: Protesters gather outside Dayton City Hall in response to police pulling paraplegic Black man from car

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the city will be transparent through the process, but she noted the internal police investigation into the incident could take four to six weeks to complete.

She said the Professional Standards Bureau investigation will be thorough and will determine if the officers’ actions were consistent with department policies, procedures and training.

“Considering the depth of an investigation of this nature and multi-levels of review, this process can and should take time,” she said. “This is not a quick process because it is a thorough process.”

Daj’za Demmings, who was a member of the Dayton police reform committee focused on use of force, said she hopes the significant work she put into the police reform process was not a waste of time.

She called on the city and police department to immediately implement the use-of-force committee’s recommendations, some of which seek to de-escalate situations.

ExploreProtesters call for action after Dayton officers pull Black paraplegic man from vehicle

Community members volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to research, develop and refine some recommendations on best practices of police use-of-force policies, said Julio Mateo, a member of the training committee and an implementation committee.

The commission has not yet accepted some of the use-of-force committee’s most important recommendations that were submitted more than six months ago, Mateo said.

He said this includes recommendations to require officers to avoid unnecessary use of force and overtly aggressive behavior and use reasonable measures to de-escalate incidents.

Owensby attended the meeting but stormed out after saying the city should put out “the truth” and show what happened while he was in the back of the police cruiser.

“I’m out of here…,” he yelled as he left. “They wanted to set me up. They wouldn’t listen to me.”