By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Clifford Owensby, 39, repeatedly told police that he was “a parapalegic”; therefore could not get out of the car. But the more he said it, the more the police officer insisted that he either get out of the car or be removed.
It was the latter that has resulted in yet another televised police brutality incident raising the ire of Black leaders and assuring that police departments across the nation are still not held accountable, despite mass protests and legislation.
Dayton, Ohio police is the latest department under scrutiny after they claimed to have stopped Owensby because he’d just left a house that police alledge is known for drug trafficking.
When an officer commanded him to get out of the car, he repeatedly told them he could not walk. Despite his plea, the police officers violently grabbed Owensby, wrestled him to the ground and even pulled him by his hair in the process.
“The violence these officers inflicted on a man with a disability who poses no threat whatsoever is painful to watch,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said in a statement. “The senselessness of repeatedly ordering him to walk when he clearly says he cannot is mind-boggling. This is the behavior of officers so drunk with power they believe their own authority supersedes the laws of physics.”
The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio President and CEO Eddie L. Koen added, “It’s incidents like this that undermine local reform efforts and erode public trust. Now is the time to show that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
The two leaders said in a statement released to the media this week that “members of Congress who have blocked the passage of police reform legislation bear a measure of responsibility for ongoing police misconduct and excessive force.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 (H.R.1280) was passed by the House of Representatives in early March. But it has been stalled in the U. S. Senate, largely along party lines.
According to Congressional records, the bill, if it became law, would address “a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restricts the use of certain policing practices, enhances transparency and data collection, and establishes best practices and training requirements,” according to Congress.gov. The bill, if it became law, would also grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in “pattern-or-practice” investigations of police departments.
“Washington has sent a message to reckless and violent police around the country that they will not he held accountable for their behavior, that they can continue to abuse vulnerable members of the community with impunity,” Morial said. “If members of Congress refuse to act when they see blatant evidence of misconduct like this, we can only infer that they are content to allow it to continue.
The arrest of Owensby was caught on tape and news reports have surfaced according to body camera footage released by police.
Owensby, who has also filed a complaint with the N.A.A.C.P., has reportedly announced through his lawyer, James Willis, that he will file a lawsuit. The police department says it has begun an investigation into the incident aired in the 16-minute video. But they have not identified the officers involved. Owensby’s 3-year-old son was reportedly in the back seat during the traffick stop.
Police said they found money totalling $22,450 in Mr. Owensby’s car, money that Owensby said was his savings. Owensby was reportedly charged with tinted windows, and failing to have his son in a car seat, both misdemeanors. Owensby was not charged with any drug-related offenses.
Morial condemned the brutality and “appalling lack of judgement”. According to the Urban League statement, he and Koen “demanded the dismissal and prosecution of the police officers.”