A Black man from Ohio is seeking justice after a traffic stop turned unnecessarily violent in September. Bodycam footage shows the paraplegic man declining to let Dayton, Ohio police to help him out of his car before officers dragged him out by his arms and hair.
On September 30, Clifford Owensby was driving in his Audi A7 when Dayton, Ohio police pulled him over, reports KOCO 5 News. Owensby expected the stop to be about window tint, but the cops weren’t there for that. Dayton police Major Brian Johns says that the officers pulled Owensby over because he left what police say they suspect to be a drug house.
The officers ran a background check on him, finding out about his past felony drug and weapons history. They followed the findings up by calling in a Narcotics Detection K-9 unit so a dog could sniff around the outside of the vehicle. The department says that to do this “free-air sniff,” policy requires the occupants to exit the vehicle. But Owensby declined to exit the vehicle, with the pretty reasonable explanation that he’s paralyzed and has no operation of his legs.
Things went south from there:
The full body cam video can be viewed here.
Owensby informed the officer multiple times that he physically could not step out of the car due to his disability. The officer said he’d help him get out of the car, but Owensby told the cop he didn’t want to be touched. He then asked to speak to a supervisor, but the officer said he’d be removed from the vehicle before that happened.
Officers pulled Owensby out of the car by his hair and an arm before laying him down and searching him. Bafflingly, they pick him up again by his hair to put him in cuffs before dragging him to a police car.
Police found a bag of cash containing $22,450. Owensby says that the money was his life savings. He ended up receiving citations for failure to restrain a child and for having tinted windows.
Derrick Foward, President of Dayton Unit NAACP says that a complaint has been filed, from KOCO 5 News:
“A pretextual traffic stop regarding the tint on his window should not have led to a citizen within these United States of America, in the 21st century, to be dragged out of the car like an animal,” Foward said. “The situation was clearly unnecessary, the officer should have been put on ... administrative leave immediately until a full investigation ensued.”
The Dayton Unit NAACP say that the police profiled Owensby before performing an unlawful arrest and an illegal search and seizure, reports Dayton Daily News. They also note that he was not read his Miranda Rights.
The Dayton Fraternal Order of Police defended the officers, saying that they used what they claim was the least amount of force to remove Owensby, reports Dayton 247 Now. The FOP statement also said:
“Sometimes the arrest of noncompliant individuals is not pretty, but it’s a necessary part of law enforcement to maintain public safety, which is one of the fundamental ideologies of our society.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley called the video very concerning and said that an investigation is underway. As for Owensby, he’s said hopes that the attention to the incident will spark real change.