Ohio Officers Who Pulled Driver Who Is Paraplegic Out of Car Cleared
In SummaryBody camera footage of the incident shows officers forcibly removing the man, who is partially paralyzed, from his car.
WARNING – This story contains details and videos of police violence. Resources for those triggered by this coverage are available here.
After an internal police investigation, officers in Dayton, Ohio, who pulled a driver, who is paraplegic, out of his car have been cleared of the most serious allegations.
Footage from the Sept. 30, 2021, incident shows officers forcibly removing 39-year-old Clifford Owensby from his car, despite him communicating that he was paraplegic. An officer then told Owensby he could get out of the car on his own or be dragged out.
One officer grabbed him by his hair before dragging him across the pavement while his three-year-old son sat in the back seat of the car.
According to CNN, Owensby filed a complaint with the Dayton Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau. After an investigation, the two officers involved in the traffic stop were cleared in connection to allegations of excessive use of force and not reading Owensby his Miranda rights.
The investigation’s report also said Owensby’s allegations that the officers threatened him with violence and mocked him were “unfounded.” Investigators ruled the “pulling of Mr. Owensby’s hair may have been visually offensive to some people, but in reality, the hair pulling was on the low end of the force spectrum and did not cause injury.” The report also said Owensby was taken to the hospital and “not injured during the incident.”
However, the officers were faulted for muting their body-worn cameras and one for making a remark deemed sarcastic. The report recommended suggesting additional training for officers to learn how to interact with people with disabilities, and the department updated its best practices on the subject in November.
Owensby and his attorneys, James Willis and Clarissa Smith, joined BNC host Yodit Tewolde on Making the Case in October to discuss the incident.
“There is very little that is left up to the imagination from what we see on this video,” Smith said. “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.”
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.