Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) and State Rep. Willis Blackshear (D-Dayton) today issued statements following a recent interaction where Dayton Police dragged a paraplegic Black man from his car and threw him on the road during a routine traffic stop in Dayton. The Dayton Police Department has opened an investigation into the incident.
“It saddens me to see Black Ohioans stopped by police for the smallest of infractions—a missing front plate, a burnt out tail light or window tint that’s too dark. These stops are often the result of profiling, and far too often, police escalate a situation that didn’t need to be escalated, leading to injury and even fatalities of predominately Black men. To see anyone, particularly an individual with a disability, be pulled forcefully out of their car and sustain injuries for what amounts to a minor infraction is infuriating,” said Rep. West.
“This incident is another reminder that we need real, comprehensive reforms to better train officers, hold them accountable for their actions, and eliminate the kind of biased policing that too often targets, incarcerates and kills Black people. Well over a year has passed since Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Months have passed since the killings of Ohioans Casey Goodson, Jr. and Andre Hill. Yet this legislature has refused to act.”
House and Senate Democrats have introduced several pieces of reform legislation during the 134th General Assembly to address police reform and accountability, but the GOP-led legislature has not scheduled hearings on those proposals. Those include several bills from OLBC members to require several forms of training for officers, reinforce Ohio’s use-of-force continuum, and create a use-of-force database, among other proposals.
“I am saddened by the actions that I have seen displayed on the body camera footage of the officer who removed Clifford Owensby from his vehicle,” said Rep. Blackshear. “This incident demonstrates the need for more de-escalation training, and also demonstrates the importance of body cameras. There is no way for us to change the events that happened, but we must continue to work to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Meanwhile, House GOP members still have yet to introduce their own version of a police reform measure, which they have been working on with the DeWine administration and several law enforcement groups. GOP legislators also stripped from House Bill (HB) 110, the biennial budget bill, provisions requiring the implementation of databases on officer use-of-force incidents and officer-involved shootings.