Police officer drags man by hair from car, ‘I’m paraplegic,’ he protests

The Police Department did not immediately respond to questions seeking comment Monday afternoon, but in a 16-minute video released by the department that contains the body-camera footage and some police statements, they said an investigation had begun.

Written by Eduardo Medina and Johnny Diaz

A Black man who was pulled from a car by police officers while yelling “I’m paraplegic” filed a complaint with the NAACP, the organization said, as the police in Dayton, Ohio, said they were investigating what had happened during the stop.

On Sept. 30, an officer with the Dayton Police Department grabbed the hair of Clifford Owensby, 39, and dragged him out of the car after repeatedly telling him to step out, according to body-camera footage released by the department Friday. Owensby told the officers that he could not get out of the car because he was paraplegic, according to the footage.

Owensby’s lawyer, James Willis, said he planned to file a lawsuit.

The Police Department did not immediately respond to questions seeking comment Monday afternoon, but in a 16-minute video released by the department that contains the body-camera footage and some police statements, they said an investigation had begun. The Police Department has not publicly identified the officers.

The footage begins with an unidentified officer describing what led to the stop.

Officers had been alerted to “a suspected drug house” in the area, and a white Audi was seen leaving that house, police said. In the vehicle, police said, was Owensby.

Police said they got Owensby’s identification, ran his information and found he had a “felony drug and weapon history.”

The officers requested a police dog that could detect narcotics. Police said it was department policy to require people to exit a vehicle when it was inspected for drugs.

Owensby told the officers that he could not exit because he was paraplegic. His 3-year-old son was in the back seat of the car during the stop, according to Willis.

Footage shows an officer approach Owensby’s car and say, “I’m going to help you get out.”

Owensby responds, “I don’t think that’s going to happen, sir.”

He continues to say he can’t get out of the car because he is paraplegic, and the officer repeats that he will assist, according to the footage.

“There will be a lawsuit if you put your hands on me for no reason,” Owensby says.

The officer replies, “Well, the reason is that I’m asking you to get out of the car.”

Owensby calls someone on the phone and asks the officer for a police supervisor, footage shows.

An officer then says, “You can cooperate and get out of the car, or I will drag you out of the car.”

The officer proceeds to grab the wrist of Owensby, who is saying the officer is hurting him, footage shows. A second officer then grabs Owensby by the wrist as he remains in the car, repeating he is paraplegic.

As the officers began to remove Owensby, police said in a statement with the video, he “grabbed onto the steering wheel, in an attempt to prevent the officers from removing him from the vehicle.”

“You’re hurting me,” Owensby says in the footage, using an expletive.

An officer is then seen pulling Owensby by the hair and dragging him out of the car, footage shows.

About 20 seconds later, an officer again grabs Owensby by the hair, flips him onto his stomach and handcuffs him. The officers drag Owensby to their police cruiser.

During their investigation, police said, they found a bag of cash containing $22,450 in Owensby’s car. The police dog alerted the officers that the money had been “in close proximity to illegal drugs,” police said.

Owensby was taken to a hospital, where he was examined and later released, police said.

Willis said Owensby was charged with two misdemeanors: having tinted windows and failing to have his son in a car seat. Owensby was not charged with any drug-related offenses, Willis said.

Willis said he did not want to discuss Owensby’s paralysis. He added that it was not a crime to have thousands of dollars in cash.

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