Officers said they pulled Owensby over because he was seen leaving a suspected drug house police were monitoring.
Owensby accused the Dayton Police Department (DPD) of profiling, unlawful arrest, illegal search and seizure, and failure to read him his rights before being taken to jail, Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward said at the news conference.
“They dragged me to their vehicle like a dog, like trash,” Clifford Owensby, 39, said at a news conference Sunday.
Owensby received a citation for failure to restrain a child and for having tinted glass as a result of the incident, according to court records. A child was in the car with Owensby at the time of the incident, but it is unclear if the child is related to him.
Owensby pleaded not guilty on Friday, according to his attorney James Willis.
Willis said he plans to file a civil lawsuit.
“It’ll take a little time to do some investigating, but we’ll probably get something filed in the next month,” Willis said Monday.
Foward told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday they are not calling the incident a case of racial profiling because the officer that pulled Owensby out of the car was Black.
CNN has reached out to the District Attorney’s office to ask if Owensby will be charged.
The officers involved — who have not been identified — remain on duty while an investigation is underway, said DPD spokesperson Cara Zinski-Neace.
On video, Owensby tells officers to call a superior during the traffic stop
On Friday, DPD released a nearly 12-minute video of the body camera footage taken from the September 30 incident.
Officers called for a Narcotics Detection K-9 unit because they observed Owensby leave a suspected drug house in the area they had been monitoring, Dayton Police Major Brian Johns said in a recorded statement.
“I was under the impression that I was pulled over for a tint, so I was expecting for them to write me a ticket and then be let go,” Owensby told CNN on Monday, referring to the tint in his windows.
Johns said based on his past felony drug and weapons history coupled with their observation he had left the residence in question, the officers requested a narcotics Detection K-9 to conduct a “free-air sniff,” when a dog smells around the outside of a vehicle.
“Dayton Police Department policy requires the occupants of the vehicle to exit for their own safety and safety of the K-9 officer to perform this free-air sniff,” Johns said.
According to the video, shortly after the radio call, one of the officers returns to Owensby, who is in the driver’s seat, and asks him to step out.
Owensby refuses, then tells the officer he can’t because he is paralyzed. “I’m a paraplegic,” Owensby says. “I got help getting in.”
The officer tells Owensby he will assist him in getting out of the vehicle, but Owensby tells the officer not to touch him and requests the officer call a superior. The officer responds by saying he will call his superior, but Owensby must get out of the car first.
“So you can cooperate and get out of the car, or I will drag you out of the car. You see your two options here?” the officer yells at Owensby, who repeats his request for the officers to call a superior.
Seconds later, two officers grab Owensby, and a struggle ensues. One of the officers grabs him by the arm and collar and then grabs his hair and drags him out of the vehicle. Owensby is seen in the video struggling on the pavement, yelling for help as the two officers proceed to subdue him.
“I was in fear of my life, all I could do was just close my eyes and grab the steering wheel and I prayed to God in my head,” Owensby said.
Johns said Owensby was taken to a local hospital, where he was examined for possible injuries and released. The police major also said officers retrieved a bag of cash from Owensby’s vehicle containing $22,450.
Owensby said Sunday the money was his savings and no weapons or drugs were found in the search. He was not charged with any drug-related offenses.
“I can’t get past the fact that I’ve been humiliated like that and they’d do anyone like that — treat any citizens in Dayton, Ohio, or anywhere else like that,” he said.
Dayton mayor calls video ‘very concerning’
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley issued a statement Sunday acknowledging the need for “thorough investigation.”
“The video of this police interaction is very concerning,” Whaley told CNN on Sunday. “That is why, immediately following this incident, the city released the body camera footage. Everyone involved is owed a thorough investigation, and one is already underway.”
“This incident shows why our community-led police reform process, which includes providing transparency, is more important than ever. The goal is always to ensure our police force has the resources to do its job, while treating all of our citizens with dignity and respect,” Whaley said.
Willis, Owensby’s attorney, said he believes the actions of the police were illegal.
“I think it was illegal and was unnecessarily brutal, given the fact they were aware fully that he can’t get out of the car on his own,” the attorney said.
Foward, the Dayton NAACP president, said the officer’s actions were egregious.
“A pretextual traffic stop regarding the tint on his window should not have led to a citizen within these United States of America, in the 21st century, to be dragged out of the car like an animal,” Foward said. “The situation was clearly unnecessary, the officer should have been put on … administrative leave immediately until a full investigation ensued.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward.