Police officials in Dayton, Ohio are investigating officers who pulled a driver who said he was disabled from his car during a drug-related traffic stop last month that was captured on police bodycam video. Clifford Owensby, said he doesn’t have use of his legs, and he felt helpless when he was removed from the car to the ground and handcuffed before being placed in the back of a Dayton Police Department cruiser during the Sept. 30 traffic stop.
The police department said the two Dayton officers were part of a narcotics investigation in the Dayton View neighborhood and notice the car leaving a suspected drug house. Because of that and the driver’s “felony drug and weapon history,” a K-9 team was summoned for a “free air sniff” that, under department policy, required occupants to get out the vehicle for their safety and that of the dog, police claim.
Owensby says he couldn’t get out because he is paraplegic, and he refused their assistance in doing so, police said. The 39-year-old “grabbed onto the steering wheel … (and) was then forcibly removed from the vehicle,” police said.
Police bodycam footage shows Owensby telling the officers several times that he was unable to get out of the car because he was a paraplegic, threatening to file a lawsuit and calling someone to “bring some people with cameras” to record the interaction. While on the ground, Owensby is heard screaming for help, asking if people were recording and asking someone to call “the real police.”
Police says Owensby was placed on the ground “in order to secure him” and officers had to pull his arms behind his back to handcuff him, police said. A bag with $22,450 in cash was found on the front floorboard, and the dog alerted to the currency, meaning “the money had been in close proximity to illegal drugs,” police said.
WHIO-TV reported, Dayton NAACP president Derrick Forward announced Owensby filed a complaint with the organization against the department “for profiling him, unlawful arrest and illegal search and seizure of his vehicle.” Forward claimed, along with being forced from the car, Owensby was also not read his Miranda Rights before being taken to jail.
“This is a total disregard for human life. The officers need to be held accountable,” Forward said.
“[They had] no respect for me, no regard for my well-being,” Owensby said.
The Dayton Daily News reported that a police report cited misdemeanor obstructing official business and resisting arrest in the crime status information, but Owensby had not been charged with either count. Traffic citations were filed in municipal court due to an unrestrained 3-year-old child in the back seat and the car’s tinted glass.
Owensby told the newspaper that he sustained scrapes from the pavement and reinjury of previous back problem.
“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” Owensby said, adding that he hopes for “some kind of disciplinary action.”
Police said a professional standards bureau investigation of the traffic stop had begun and asked for patience from the public during that process.
Mayor Nan Whaley said in a statement Friday evening that the video was “very concerning.”
“No matter where you live or what you look like, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when dealing with Dayton Police,” she said. “Dayton remains committed to our ongoing community-led police reform process and providing transparency in situations like this.”
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