An investigation is underway after Ohio police yanked a man out of a vehicle and dragged him to a police car, despite the man repeatedly saying he has no use of his legs, according to body camera video released Friday.
Clifford Owensby was stopped on Sept. 30 in Dayton after officers saw him leaving a “suspected drug house.” After he was stopped, police requested a narcotics detection K-9 due to Owensby’s “felony drug and weapon history,” police said in a statement.
Department policy requires occupants to leave a vehicle during a “free-air sniff,” when a K-9 walks around a vehicle to sniff for illegal narcotics, according to police.
Body camera footage released by the department shows officers approaching the car with Owensby inside. An officer tells Owensby to get out of the car and Owensby says, “I can’t step out of the car, sir. I’m a paraplegic.”
When an officer offered to help him get out of the vehicle, Owensby repeated that he cannot get out of the car and said there “will be a lawsuit if you put your hands on me for no reason.”
During the interaction with the officer, Owensby calls someone and tells them to bring cameras to “witness what’s going on,” bodycam video shows. Owensby also asks the officer to call his supervisor.
The officer then instructed Owensby to step out of the car again and says, “You’re getting out of this car. So you can cooperate and get out of the car, or I will drag you out of the car. Do you see your two options here?”
Officers then drag Owensby out of the car by his arms and hair while Owensby screams, the video shows. In a statement, police said Owensby “grabbed onto the steering wheel” of the car he was in.
Police handcuffed Owensby while kneeling on his back and pulled him to a police car. Owensby is heard yelling for help as officers drag him.
Police said Owensby was placed on the ground “in order to secure him.” Police also said the K-9 dog alerted to a bag containing $22,450 in cash in Owensby’s car, meaning “the money had been in close proximity to illegal drugs.”
In a statement Dayton police said Owensby was taken to a hospital, examined and released. An investigation into the incident was launched Oct. 1, police said.
“We understand this incident has sparked a lot of emotional reactions here in the community in Dayton, Ohio, and we ask for your patience as we investigate this incident to its fullest,” the statement said.
Owensby told the Dayton Daily News, he received scrapes from the pavement and re-injured a previous back problem during the incident. He said he hopes “for some kind of disciplinary action.”
The newspaper reported that a police report cited misdemeanors of obstructing official business and resisting arrest, but Owensby had not been charged with either count.
“I feel like they don’t even respect me as a citizen,” Owensby told the newspaper.
Matt Carper, the police department’s interim director and chief, said Friday that upcoming training for all Dayton officers and supervisors will include diversity, equity and inclusion as well as deescalation, bias-free policing and procedural justice.
“We need to do better, and this can be done by further developing the mutual respect and accountability to make our city safer,” Carper stated.
Contributing: The Associated Press