The Ohio cops who pulled a paraplegic man out of his car by his hair last month after stopping him for dark tints have tried to justify their actions by claiming the driver had a “history” of previous drug arrests.
But a look at the history between the Dayton Police Department and the driver, Clifford Owensby, show that it is the cops with a much more questionable past.
After all, Dayton police have seized almost $40,000 in cash from Owensby in three different traffic stops over his tinted windows since 2008 on the claim it was drug money, according to an investigative report by the Dayton Daily News.
But the only drugs they found that belonged to him during those traffic stops was a bag of weed weighing 3.5 grams which has a street value of less than $50 – a minor offense in a state that decriminalized possession of less than 100 grams of cannabis back in 1975.
Dayton police have justified the cash grabs by claiming their drug-sniffing dogs determined the money had been “in close proximity to illegal drugs,” according to the YouTube video posted by the city of Dayton which includes the body cam footage of the latest incident.
But studies have shown that up to 80 percent of cash circulating at any given moment contains traces of drugs.
Besides, it is not uncommon for cops to train their dogs to give false positives, especially when it can lead to asset forfeiture, the profitable practice of seizing money from citizens on the unproven claim that it was derived from illegal activity.
From a Constitutional perspective, it is legalized armed robbery because it places the burden of proof on the citizen to prove the money is legal, providing a lucrative loophole for cops to seize money without even a warrant, much less actual evidence.
And the Dayton Police Department is one of several Ohio law enforcement agencies that have enriched itself through asset forfeiture over the years, according to a 2015 Cincinnati Enquirer article.
In 2015, the Institute for Justice gave Ohio a grade of “D-“ for its unconstitutional asset forfeiture laws, which have allowed Ohio law enforcement agencies to rake in millions of dollars over the years from innocent citizens.
Two years later, Ohio passed a law that requires a conviction before police can seize property or cash valued at less than $15,000.
The Viral Video
Dayton police seized $22,450 from Owensby on September 30 after pulling him over on the basis he was leaving a “suspected drug house.” They then justified the stop by claiming the tints on the windows of his BMW were illegal but they were only able to determine that after one of the cops used a device to measure the amount of light allowed through.
Rather than write him a citation for illegal tints and allow him to be on his way, Dayton police ordered Owensby out of the car to allow a police dog to conduct a “free air-sniff” to search for drugs.
That was when Owensby told him he was paraplegic and unable to step out. Owensby asked for a supervisor in the hopes to diffuse the situation.
But the cops forced him out the car by his hair and onto the street in an incident captured on video that has been reported widely.
However, what has not been discussed widely is how the cops seized more than $20,000 from him that day but only had enough evidence to cite him for a couple of traffic infractions; the illegal tints and having an unrestrained child in the back seat, his 3-year-old son.
On Monday, a judge found him guilty on both citations and ordered him to pay $300 in fines, according to the Dayton Daily News.
Owensby’s attorney, James Willis, told reporters after the trial that he plans to file a lawsuit against the police department for civil rights violations during the traffic stop.
History with Dayton Police
An online search through Dayton Municipal Court and Montgomery County Court public records show Owensby has a long string of arrests and court cases dating back to 2002. Most appear to be for small amounts of marijuana or cocaine as well as for traffic violations including driving with a suspended license or having illegal tints.
In 2005, online records show he was convicted of felony cocaine possession after police found between five to ten grams of cocaine on him.
In 2006, he was convicted of felony marijuana possession after he was found guilty of possessing between 200 to 1,000 grams of marijuana which is not more than 2.2 pounds. The following year he was arrested for possession of a firearm while having a previous drug conviction.
In 2008, he was pulled over by Dayton police for illegal tints and police ended up seizing a bag of weed from a female passenger as well as $10,000 in cash from Owensby on the same claim that it was in proximity to drugs.
The same thing happened in 2015 after police pulled him over for illegal tints and found 3.5 grams of marijuana on him which led to them seizing $7,100 from him shirt pocket.
In 2016, he sued Dayton police to recover the $10,000 they seized in 2008 but the case was thrown out of court because police claimed they gave the money to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, according to court records which you can read here.
According to the Dayton Daily News:
In a 2015 case, Owensby was pulled over for having dark window tint. Police records say Owensby was taken out of the car so a K-9 officer could do a free air sniff. When officers patted down Owensby for weapons, they found $7,100 in cash in his pocket. The dog alerted to drugs, and police searched the car and found 3.5 grams of marijuana. Officers seized the money because the dog alerted that it smelled like drugs. He was cited for tinted windows as well as misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Owensby filed a lawsuit against Dayton police in 2016 to recover $10,000 that was seized from him after a 2008 traffic stop. In that case Owensby was pulled over for having dark-tinted windows and a bag of marijuana was found on a woman in the car. Owensby said the money was his savings. Police confiscated it because it was in proximity to drugs.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Adkins dismissed Owensby’s lawsuit saying Dayton police had handed the money over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency so it wasn’t in his court’s jurisdiction.
In the incident last month, police confiscated $22,450 from his vehicle, saying a police dog indicated the money had been in close proximity to illegal drugs. Owensby says the money is his savings.
In 2015, online court records show he was convicted for possessing less than 100 grams of marijuana, indicating he is more of a consumer than a trafficker.
Even though police pull him over on a routine basis, according to his dozens of court cases over the years, the most serious of all his offenses appear to be the drug and gun felonies from almost 15 years ago.
It is only after those convictions that police started seizing his money during traffic stops but have failed to find anything more than a bag of weed that was most likely his personal stash.
That is the “history” police used to justify dragging him out by his hair after pulling him over for illegal tints.
Watch the video below.