A Black paraplegic man who was pulled out of his car by a Dayton police officer during a traffic stop plans to sue the police department. Clifford Owensby’s lawyer, James Willis, said that it will take some time to investigate the case, but that he plans on filing a civil suit next month, according to CNN
Owensby was originally pulled over for violations connected to his tinted windows and for a child not being fastened in a car seat, but the Sept. 30 ordeal got out of hand fast, as The Root previously reported.
Owensby has also filed a complaint against the Dayton Police Department with the NAACP, but the chapter’s president Derrick Foward said they are not characterizing the stop as racially motivated because the cop who pulled him over was Black. But he still condemned the cop’s actions.
“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 cops claim they called for a Narcotics Detection K-9 unit because they saw Owensby leave a suspected drug house they had been monitoring. This is what led to the stop.
For those who need a recap of what happened, here is a synopsis from CNN:
“I was under the impression that I was pulled over for a tint, so I was expecting for them to write me a ticket and then be let go,” Owensby told CNN on Monday, referring to the tint in his windows.
Johns said based on his past felony drug and weapons history coupled with their observation he had left the residence in question, the officers requested a narcotics Detection K-9 to conduct a “free-air sniff,” when a dog smells around the outside of a vehicle.
“Dayton Police Department policy requires the occupants of the vehicle to exit for their own safety and safety of the K-9 officer to perform this free-air sniff,” Johns said.
According to the video, shortly after the radio call, one of the officers returns to Owensby, who is in the driver’s seat, and asks him to step out.
Owensby refuses, then tells the officer he can’t because he is paralyzed. “I’m a paraplegic,” Owensby says. “I got help getting in.”
The officer tells Owensby he will assist him in getting out of the vehicle, but Owensby tells the officer not to touch him and requests the officer call a superior. The officer responds by saying he will call his superior, but Owensby must get out of the car first.
“So you can cooperate and get out of the car, or I will drag you out of the car. You see your two options here?” the officer yells at Owensby, who repeats his request for the officers to call a superior.
Seconds later, two officers grab Owensby, and a struggle ensues. One of the officers grabs him by the arm and collar and then grabs his hair and drags him out of the vehicle. Owensby is seen in the video struggling on the pavement, yelling for help as the two officers proceed to subdue him.
Owensby told CNN that he feared for his life and has nightmares about that day he was pulled out of his car. There is an investigation into the case, but the cops involved in the stop are still on duty. Willis, Owensby’s lawyer, said the stop was unnecessary—especially given his disability.
“I think it was illegal and was unnecessarily brutal, given the fact they were fully aware that he can’t get out of the car on his own,” he said.