Case: DOJ Investigation of Dayton Ohio for Discriminatory Treatment of People with Disabilities by Police

No Docket | No Court

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Case Summary

This out of court matter was initiated by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJ) in response to a complaint alleging the Dayton Police Department (DPD) discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The driver, who was paraplegic and used a wheelchair, was pulled over by DPD officers during a traffic stop. The officers ordered him out of the car with the intention of conducting a discretionary “free air sniff” for…

This out of court matter was initiated by the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJ) in response to a complaint alleging the Dayton Police Department (DPD) discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The driver, who was paraplegic and used a wheelchair, was pulled over by DPD officers during a traffic stop. The officers ordered him out of the car with the intention of conducting a discretionary “free air sniff” for drugs using a dog, but he was unable to exit safely because he didn’t have his wheelchair, which he communicated to the officers. Officers ignored the driver’s requests that they contact their supervisor and refused to call for equipment or request other assistance. They instead chose to pull the driver out of his car and throw him on the ground, before handcuffing him and dragging him to a police car. 

The DOJ concluded through their investigation that the DPD provided the driver with unequal and ineffective services by forcibly removing him from his car without a mobility aid, and failed to reasonably modify police practices to avoid discrimination in violation of the ADA. The DOJ found that reasonable modifications could have been during the stop by obtaining a wheelchair or paramedic assistance, by allowing the driver to remain in the car, or by using their judgment to not conduct a discretionary drug sniff.

The parties came together to resolve the matter by entering into a settlement agreement. DPD affirmed their commitment to the general requirements of the ADA, stipulating that they would make reasonable modifications in their policies and practices when necessary to prevent discrimination. The DPD further agreed to submit revised policies, practices and procedures to the DOJ that included this commitment. DPD was to implement these policies within 30 days of the effective date, June 12, 2023. The parties agreed that DPD would provide training to officers on the ADA that would include best practices for interactions with individuals with disabilities, including individuals with mobility disabilities, and the obligation to make reasonable modifications. DPD was to promptly address any other complaints it had received alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. Finally, the parties agreed to reports every six months. 

The duration of the agreement was to be three years. The Clearinghouse expects regular mentoring and compliance review to take place until 2026.

Summary Authors

Simran Takhar (10/18/2023)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Policing

Disability Rights

Key Dates

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Dayton Police Department, City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Available Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2023 - None

Issues

General/Misc.:

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Disability and Disability Rights:

Mobility impairment

Reasonable Modifications

Discrimination Basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Policing:

Traffic Stops