Body camera footage released on Friday showed police in Dayton. Ohio forcibly removing a Black paraplegic motorist from his vehicle and throwing him to the ground as he repeatedly told them he can’t use his legs.
The motorist, 39-year old Clifford Owensby, has filed a complaint with Dayton’s branch of the NAACP. The Washington Post reports that the Dayton Police Department’s bureau of professional standards and the NAACP will investigate the circumstances surrounding Owensby’s Sept. 30 arrest–during which police cited him for window tint and for transporting a child without a car seat.
Per the Post:
Officers had been monitoring a house Sept. 30 when they saw Owensby leave, according to Dayton police’s video statement released Friday. After finding prior drug charges, officers wanted a police K-9 to sniff around Owensby’s car, which required him to exit, police said.
The encounter grew tense after Owensby told officers he could not step out of his car because he is paraplegic. The officers said they would assist him.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen, sir,” Owensby replied in the video.
An officer clarified: He’s not asking Owensby. As Owensby and the police continued their back and forth, Owensby took out his phone and called someone to ask for help.
“You can cooperate and get out of the car, or I can drag you out of the car,” an officer told Owensby. “You see your two options here?”
Owensby asked to talk to the officer’s supervisor before both officers reach for Owensby’s arm to pull him out of the car.
“I’m a paraplegic, bro, you can hurt me!” Owensby yelled. Officers grabbed him by his hair and forced him to the ground before handcuffing and carrying him to the squad car with his feet dragging behind him.
According to NBC News, Owensby screamed and shouted for help as the unidentified officers pressed him to the ground. One officer put his knee into Owensby’s back and another threatened to tase him.
Derrick Foward, the president of Dayton’s NAACP branch, told the Post that the actions of the officers on scene that day were “totally unacceptable, inhumane” and cast a bad light on the city. Predictably, the Dayton police union disagrees.
From NBC News:
Dayton Fraternal Order of Police President Jerome A. Dix said in a statement Friday night that the officers asked for compliance and offered to “assist” Owensby when they were told he is paraplegic. He said the motorist “continued to be verbally noncompliant,” thus escalating the officers’ response.
“The officers followed the law, their training, and department policies and procedures,” he said. “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.”
As for Owensby, he told the Dayton Daily News earlier this week that the encounter with police re-aggravated an old back injury he sustained and left him with scrapes from the pavement.
“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” he said of the officers’ conduct.