Dayton, OH – Dayton police have launched an investigation after bodycam video from the arrest of a disabled drug suspect in September showed that officers pulled the paraplegic man from his vehicle and dragged him by his hair (video below).
The NAACP appeared beside 39-year-old Clifford Owensby and his attorney at a press conference and announced they would be filing a civil lawsuit, CNN reported.
“They dragged me to their vehicle like a dog, like trash,” Owensby told reporters. “It was total humiliation.”
The incident occurred on Sept. 30 after Dayton police officers stopped Owensby’s vehicle after they observed him driving away from a known drug house, NPR reported.
Dayton Police Major Brian Johns said in a statement that officers called for a Narcotics Detection K-9 unit to do a “free-air” sniff of the vehicle for drugs based on Owensby’s past felony drug and weapons history, CNN reported.
“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,” Maj. Johns explained.
Bodycam video from the incident showed an officer told Owensby he would have to get out of the vehicle while the K9 searched the car and the driver told them he couldn’t.
“I cannot step out,” Owensby said in the video. “I’m a paraplegic.”
The officer told the driver that officers would help him out of the car but Owensby said he didn’t want to be touched and requested that a police supervisor be called to the scene, CNN reported.
The video showed the officer told Owensby he would call a supervisor after he got out of the car.
“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 told Owensby in the video.
Bodycam video showed Owensby repeatedly yelled at the officer that he was going to hurt him.
When he refused to allow officers to help him out of the vehicle, the bodycam showed an officer reached in and grabbed Owensby by the arm and dragged him from the vehicle.
Then the video showed an officer grabbed Owensby by the hair and dragged him onto the pavement and then pinned him to the ground.
“Somebody help!” Owensby screamed several times. “Can you all call the real police please?”
Video showed that the two officers hoisted him up under his arms and dragged him to the police vehicle.
Maj. Johns said that the paraplegic man was taken to the hospital and examined for possible injuries and released.
Police searched Owensby’s vehicle and found $22,450 inside it, CNN reported.
However, Owensby was not charged with any drug-related offenses.
The police report showed Owensby was charged with obstructing official business and resisting arrest, NPR reported.
He told police the money was his savings, CNN reported.
James Willis, Owensby’s lawyer, told reporters at the press conference that the officers’ actions were illegal.
“I think it was illegal and was unnecessarily brutal, given the fact they were aware fully that he can’t get out of the car on his own,” Willis said.
Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward said Owensby had been profiled, unlawfully arrested, and illegally searched, CNN reported.
Forward also claimed Dayton police had illegally seized Owensby’s money and failed to real him his rights when they arrested him.
Police officers are not legally required to read people their rights when they are arrested.
“I have nightmares,” Owensby told reporters. “I should not have to leave out of my house every day wondering if this is going to happen to me again.”
The mayor has called for an investigation of the incident, CNN reported.
“The video of this police interaction is very concerning,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said. “That is why, immediately following this incident, the city released the body camera footage. Everyone involved is owed a thorough investigation, and one is already underway.”
“This incident shows why our community-led police reform process, which includes providing transparency, is more important than ever. The goal is always to ensure our police force has the resources to do its job, while treating all of our citizens with dignity and respect,” Whaley told CNN.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: