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Clifford Owensby's attorney says police training is to blame for traffic stop incident

Clifford Owensby at a Dayton Unit NAACP press conference on Sunday. The table has a blue cloth with the NAACP logo, and several people sit with him and stand behind him.
Dayton NAACP
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Screen Capture.
Clifford Owensby (in white) at a Dayton Unit NAACP press conference on Sunday.

James R. Willis said in an interview that the officers involved should have been better trained to understand the limits on their authority.

Clifford Owensby, the disabled man from Dayton who was dragged from his car by police during a traffic stop last month, has hired a lawyer.

Attorney James R. Willis from Cleveland said the way officers treated his client is indefensible, despite the local Dayton police union saying their officers followed procedure. However, Willis said he does not blame the individual officers involved in the traffic stop.

“I blame the people who should have taught them, that being the state or the city, before they certified them and unleashed them among the public," Willis said. "They should have been advised as to the limits on their authority.”

Willis said that once Owensby informed police he was unable to walk, officers should have taken different safety precautions instead of forcing him out of the car. He said police could have conducted a visual search of the car or patted Owensby down inside the vehicle if they feared for their own safety.

Willis also questioned what gave the Dayton police the right to seize the over twenty thousand dollars in cash that was found in the vehicle Owensby was driving. Dayton police told the Dayton Daily News that since a canine unit alerted them to the bag of money, the money had been in close proximity to illegal drugs.

"80 percent to 90 percent of the money in circulation in the country has drug smell on it," Willis said. "What does that got to do with it? Did they find any drugs in the car? Is it illegal to ride around with money in your car? When did it become a crime to have money?"

A protest is planned for 8:30 a.m. this Wednesday, October 13 during the Dayton City Commission meeting.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.