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NAACP investigating after paraplegic man was pulled from car by police

The Hill logo The Hill 10/10/2021 Joseph Choi
A police officer in front of a police car © iStock A police officer in front of a police car

Video of a paraplegic Black man being pulled from his car by police in Dayton, Ohio as he yelled for help has sparked an investigation by the NAACP.

Clifford D. Owensby has filed a complaint with the local unit of the NAACP, according to The Washington Post. The unit's president, Derrick L. Foward, told the Post that the NAACP is working "hand-in-hand" with Owensby's legal counsel.

Local authorities say Owensby was arrested on Sept. 30 following a traffic stop by officers who had been alerted of a possible drug house in the area where Owensby lived.

Around 12:30 p.m., officers stopped Owensby's white Audi and, after receiving his ID, requested a K9 to perform a free-air sniff of Owensby's vehicle due to him leaving a suspected drug house and having a "felony drug and weapon history," officials added.

In order to perform this inspection, drivers are required to exit the vehicle and Owensby informed the officers that he could not exit.

"I'm gonna help you get out," the officer can be heard saying on body camera footage.

"I don't think that's gonna happen, sir," Owensby responded.

When the officer insists that Owensby must get out of the vehicle and says he is going to help him out, Owensby says, "No you're not. You're not going to touch me."

Owensby then calls an acquaintance, asking them to "bring some people with cameras."

Soon afterward, the officer is seen grabbing Owensby by his arm and his hair and dragging him onto the ground. After handcuffing Owensby's hands behind his back, two officers can be seen dragging him away, his legs limp and his pants having fallen down. His shoes also fell off, which the officer tosses back into his car.

Police officers said a 3-year-old child was also in the car at the time of the incident.

"To pull this man out of the car, by his hair - a paraplegic - is totally unacceptable, inhumane and sets a bad light on our great city of Dayton, Ohio," Foward said to the Post.

According to Foward, Owensby had been picking up cable TV boxes from rental properties he owns, including a property suspected of being a drug house, when he was stopped by police.

"He felt he was treated inhumanely, like a dog on the street," said Foward. "He felt officers did not have empathy for him."

The Post noted that Dayton's police department is already under scrutiny for a previous incident involving a deaf and mute man with cerebral palsy who says he was injured and mistreated by officers during a 2020 arrest.

The Dayton Police Department's Bureau of Professional Standards will be investigating the incident involving Owensby as well as the officer's conduct, the Post reported. Owensby was cited for his window tint as well as for transporting a child without a car seat.

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