Dayton, Ohio – The Dayton Police Department says its Professional Standards Bureau is investigating an incident that took place last week between a paraplegic man and two officers.
Clifford Owensby was stopped by Dayton police and forcibly removed from his vehicle, despite repeatedly telling the officers he was a paraplegic.
Body camera footage shows Dayton police pulling over Owensby, then testing the tint on his vehicle. They return to their patrol vehicle after noticing a child in the backseat. Once they come back to Owensby’s vehicle they tell him to remove his seatbelt and to step out of the vehicle.
“I can’t step out the car sir, I’m a paraplegic. I got help getting in here,” Owensby said.
“Well I’ll help you gettin out,” the officer said.
The response seemed to catch Owensby off-guard with him replying “excuse me? “Well, I don’t think that’s gonna happen sir.”
Officers drag differently-abled man out of vehicle
The officer informed Owensby that it was not a request, and that it was a command for him to get out of the vehicle.
“Can I ask you what’s the problem,” Owensby said.
“The problem is that because of your history I’m gonna have a dog do a free air around the car,” the officer replied.
Owensby again tells the officer that he can’t get out of the vehicle and tells him there will be a lawsuit if the officer puts his hands on him. Owensby then makes a phone call to get someone to come to the scene as a witness and to record what happened.
Owensby then asks the officer to call his “white shirt” to which the officer replies “I’m gonna pull you out of here and then I’ll call a white shirt”.
The officer tells Owensby that he has two options: to cooperate and get out of the vehicle or to get dragged out of the vehicle.
The body cam footage then shows a struggle where multiple officers grab Owensby’s arms and pull him from the driver’s seat onto the ground. Owensby is heard telling the officers that they can hurt him because he is a paraplegic.
Dayton PD responds, asks for patience
Dayton police released a statement saying:
“The investigation will include the review of any policies and training when encountering these situations. Detectives from the Professional Standards Bureau have already interviewed the driver in the video.
We ask the public to please be patient while all of the facts are gathered so we may have a clear understanding of what occurred and why in order to make informed decisions and continue to improve services,”
The department’s statement says that the incident was part of a traffic stop and drug investigation. Dayton police said $22,450 was recovered from the vehicle, however there were no drugs or firearms in the vehicle.
A police report from the incident cites misdemeanor obstructing official business and misdemeanor resisting arrest in the crime status information. He has not been charged with either count.
Owensby said he was injured during the incident, sustaining scrapes from the pavement and is still in pain. He also said that a previous back injury was re-injured.
“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” Owensby told the Daily Dayton News. “I’m hoping for some kind of disciplinary action and furthermore, I wish that this doesn’t happen to no one else. This is unacceptable. We’re supposed to have officers out here to serve and protect and when we lose faith in them doing that, who do we turn to? I feel like they need to train their officers to deal with disabled people in a more efficient manner, treat them with more respect.”