Clifford Owensby Reflects on Brutal Encounter With Dayton Police

In Summary

The Black man who is paralyzed from the waist down and was dragged out of his vehicle by Dayton police spoke to BNC and said the incident has left him traumatized and reinjured. 

WARNING – This story contains details and videos of police violence. Resources for those triggered by this coverage are available here  

Clifford Owensby, a Black man who is partially paralyzed, was pulled from his car by Dayton police and is now speaking out about the incident of police brutality.  

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Body camera footage of the September 30 incident shows officers forcibly removing 39-year-old Owensby from his car, despite him communicating that he was a paraplegic. An officer then told Owensby he could get out of the car on his own or be dragged out.  

One officer grabbed Owensby by his hair before dragging him across the pavement. All of this happened in front of a three-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car.  

Officers allege they saw Owensby drive away from a suspected drug house and that the tint on his windows was too dark. When they ran his name in the system and saw his past run-ins with the law, they brought in a police K-9 to search his car and found a bag containing $22,000 in cash.  

Owensby was cited for having a child in the back seat unrestrained, illegal tint, obstructing official police business and resisting arrest. He has since filed a complaint with the NAACP alleging false arrest, racial profiling and illegal search and seizure. He also plans to file a lawsuit.  

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Owensby and his attorneys James Willis and Clarissa Smith joined BNC host Yodit Tewolde on Making the Case to discuss what happened and their next steps.  

Owensby said he and his children were traumatized by the incident. He also said being dragged out of the car has left him sore and reinjured him, which will take him months to recover from. During the interaction, he said he prayed, fearing the encounter with officers would be the end of his life.  

Smith said officers should have just given Owensby a ticket for the minor misdemeanors of the tinted windows and not having a child properly restrained in the car. “The response to that situation is to give a ticket and let him go about his way, but these officers decided to prolong the stop,” she said.  

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Dayton Mayor Nannette Whaley released a statement to BNC saying, “Everyone involved is owed a thorough investigation, and one is already underway.” Smith, however, believes the video speaks for itself.  

“There is very little that is left up to the imagination from what we see on this video. There is no excuse for pulling a man who is paralyzed from the waist down out of his vehicle by his hair, dragging him across the pavement, flipping him onto his back where his spinal cord injury is in direct contact with the ground, flipping him onto his stomach, forcing his hands to his back, pants falling down to his knees and then dragging him across the pavement to a police cruiser where they pretty much throw him in the back seat,” Smith said. 

Owensby was doing physical therapy, hoping to walk again and Smith notes this encounter has set him back. She said, “So I believe it sounds nice to say everybody’s owed a thorough investigation, but nobody is owed a more thorough investigation than Mr. Owensby.”  

The NAACP is investigating alongside Owensby’s attorneys to address the issue head-on in hopes of holding the city and the police accountable.  

This incident comes as the city of Dayton is searching for a new police chief and Owensby’s attorneys hope the next person to take the job will not try to make excuses or rationalize what happened. “Regardless of how anyone feels about Mr. Owensby, the color of his skin, his criminal history, him having dark tint or having a child in the back seat without a car seat, nobody should be dragged out of a vehicle by their hair, dragged across the ground and subjected to the abuse that Mr. Owensby was subjected to,” Smith said. “I’m hopeful that the next police chief takes the opportunity to implement protocols such that officers receive training, ongoing training, to appropriately handle all members of the community, regardless of any category they might fall into and I hope that the next police chief is committed particularly to the Black community.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.   

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