Dayton PD promises ‘thorough review’ after body cam shows officers drag man who says he’s disabled

DAYTON — The interim chief of Dayton Police Department and Dayton’s City Manager are promising a thorough review of an encounter last week where officers forcibly removed a man who reported being disabled from his car, handcuffed him, and dragged him to a police cruiser.

The case involved a traffic stop Thursday, Sept. 30 on Grand Avenue in Dayton.

Clifford Owensby, who told News Center 7 he cannot walk, said he was out running errands without a wheelchair in the car.

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“I usually get assistance with getting in and out of the vehicle,” he said

Body camera footage WHIO obtained through a public records request shows officers appeared to pull Owensby over for a traffic stop, noting his window tint at 20 percent.

Minutes after conferring in a police cruiser, the video shows an officer approach Owensby on the driver’s side of his car, and ask him to turn off the engine and step out of the car. The officer noted a dog would need to search the vehicle, due to Owensby’s “history.” WHIO checked and found Owensby has past drug and weapons convictions in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

Owensby explained to officers he could not step out of the car.

“I’m paraplegic,” he said numerous times.

Officers offered to help him out of the car numerous times.

“Sir, I’m going to assist you to get out of the vehicle,” video shows, the officer said.

“No you’re not. No you’re not. You’re not going to touch me,” Owensby replied.

The video then showed Owensby appeared to call someone – apparently nearby – asking that person to come and bring others to witness the encounter.

“Bring cameras,” he said to his phone.

He then asked for a police supervisor.

“That way, if they were there they could possibly make sure the stop could be conducted in a decent manner,” he told News Center 7 Monday.

“Can you call your white shirt please?” Owensby is seen on video saying.

“I’ll pull you out and then I’ll call the white shirt,” the officer replied. “Because you’re getting out of the car. That’s not an option.

The officer continued, his voice raised. “You’re getting out of this car. So you can cooperate and get out of this car or I will drag you out of this car. Do you see your two options here?” he shouted to Owensby.

Seconds later, video shows the two officers pull Owensby out of the car, and force him to the pavement. Owensby can be heard on the video calling for help, and telling officers they are hurting him.

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Officers told Owensby multiple times that he was making the situation more difficult. Police then are seen on the video dragging him to a cruiser, where they placed him under arrest for obstructing official business and resisting arrest.

“I just feel like they (were) wrong for doing what they (were) doing and I couldn’t believe what was happening to me,” Owensby said Monday.

WHIO reached out to Dayton Police and city leaders for a response on the encounter.

In a statement Monday, Interim Chief Matt Carper said the department’s Professional Standards Bureau is investigating the incident, “to include the officers’ actions and any allegations of misconduct.” Carper said detectives have already interviewed Owensby, and promised transparency in the investigation.

In her own statement, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the department is committed “to completing a thorough review to ensure that we are held accountable to the public.”

For his part, Owensby said he hopes to see changes after this encounter.

“I feel like they need to training the officers to deal with disabled people in a more efficient manner,” he said. “Treat them with respect.”