Cop To NFL Player: "I Can Screw You Over"

DALLAS (AP) -- A police officer was placed on administrative leave Thursday over a traffic stop involving an NFL player whom he kept in a hospital parking lot and threatened to arrest while his mother-in-law died inside the building.

Officer Robert Powell also drew his gun during the March 18 incident involving Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats in the Dallas suburb of Plano, police said.

"I can screw you over," he said at one point in the videotaped incident. When another officer came with word that Moats' mother-in-law was indeed dying, Powell's response was: "All right. I'm almost done."

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle apologized to the family and announced that Powell would be on paid leave pending an internal investigation.

"When we at the command staff reviewed the tape, we were embarrassed, disappointed," Kunkle said. "It's hard to find the right word and still be professional in my role as the police chief. But the behavior was not appropriate."

Powell, 25, a three-year member of the force, stopped Moats' SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano after Moats rolled through a red light.

Police officials said Powell told his commanders he believed he was doing his job, and that he drew his gun but did not point it. Kunkle said Powell was not necessarily acting improperly when he pulled his weapon out, but that once he realized what was happening should have put the gun back, apologized and offered to help the family in any way.

"His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit," Kunkle said.

Moats' wife, who was in the car along with other relatives, said Powell pointed his weapon at her.

"He was pointing a gun at me as soon as I got out of the car," Tamishia Moats told The Dallas Morning News.

Ryan Moats told KRLD-FM in Dallas in a phone interview Thursday that after the officer pointed the gun at his wife, he pointed it at him. "I just tried to stay as still as possible to not scare him or do anything to make him react," he said.

He earlier told the newspaper he thought Powell should be fired but backed off that in his radio interview.

"All I know is what he did was wrong," Moats said. "He stole a moment away from me that I can never get back. I'm really not the judge on what should happen to him."

The Moats family did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press. Powell did not respond to requests for comment through the Dallas police union.

Video from a dashboard camera inside the officer's vehicle, obtained by Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA-TV, revealed an intense exchange in which the officer threatened to jail Moats.

He ordered Tamishia Moats, 27, to get back in the SUV, but after pausing for a few seconds, she and another woman rushed into the hospital. She was by the side of her mother, 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth, when she died a short time later from breast cancer.

"Get in there," said Powell, yelling at Tamishia Moats as she exited the vehicle. "Let me see your hands!"

"Excuse me, my mom is dying," Tamishia Moats said. "Do you understand?"

Ryan Moats explained that he waited until there was no traffic before proceeding through the red light. When Powell asked for proof of insurance, Moats grew more agitated and told the officer to go find it.

"My mother-in-law is dying! Right now! You're wasting my time!" Moats yelled. "I don't understand why you can't understand that."

As they argued, the officer got irritated.

"Shut your mouth," the officer said. "You can either settle down and cooperate or I can just take you to jail for running a red light."

By the time the 26-year-old NFL player received a ticket and a lecture from Powell, about 13 minutes had passed. When he and Collinsworth's father entered the hospital, they learned Collinsworth was dead.

Earl Jackson, Collinsworth's father, said he knew what Powell was doing was wrong. "This guy, he wouldn't listen to nobody," Jackson said in an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth station KDFW-TV.

Moats said he wouldn't have had a problem with the officer giving him a ticket after letting him go into the hospital.

"I don't know what he was thinking," he told KRLD-FM. "Basically, I was just shocked. I was very shocked that he wasn't budging on it. I even said I can't believe that this was happening."

Kunkle said the video showed that Moats and his wife "exercised extraordinary patience, restraint in dealing with the behavior of our officer."

"At no time did Mr. Moats identify himself as an NFL football player or expect any kind of special consideration," Kunkle said. "He handled himself very, very well."

The Moats family, who are black, said they can't help but think that race might have played a part in the white officer's behavior.

"I think he should lose his job," Ryan Moats said.

When the exchange was at its most contentious, Powell said he could tow Moats' SUV if he didn't have insurance and that he could arrest him for fleeing because he didn't immediately stop when Powell turned on his sirens. The pursuit lasted a little more than a minute.

"I can screw you over," Powell said. "I'd rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens."

The ticket issued to Moats was dismissed, Dallas police spokesman Lt. Andy Harvey said.

Texans spokesman Kevin Cooper said the team had no comment.

Moats, a third-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 out of Louisiana Tech, was cut by the Eagles in August and later signed with the Texans. In three seasons as a backup, he's rushed for 441 yards and scored four touchdowns.

He was a standout at Bishop Lynch High School, a private school in Dallas, rushing for more than 2,600 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by AndyAnalog Location: Wherever I may roam on Apr 12, 2009 at 08:15 PM
    Hey N. Blacks are people too! It sounds like you think they're an alien species or something.
  • by g Location: g on Apr 12, 2009 at 08:08 PM
    Alright I didn't know his wife was in there. It makes more sense now. He did break the law, but the officer sholdn't have kept him there.
  • by steve Location: spring hope on Apr 3, 2009 at 04:55 AM
    Typical police behavior. I have been an upstanding citizen all of my life. Worked at the same job for 20 years. Pay your bills on time, go to church every sunday etc..I have only had one experience in dealing with the sheriffs department and it had changed my opinion of them forever. The normal citizens need to stay as far away from law enforcement as possible. If not...they will do you just like the guy said. "I can screw you over".
  • by Redneck Woman on Mar 31, 2009 at 12:53 PM
    Yes, I know red means stop, I slowed down and made sure no-one was coming, my boyfriend had been in a car accident , and I called to see if he was at a certain Hospital , and they told me he had just died about 10 minutes ago. When the cop stopped me he gave me a ticket, I explain what happened, it did'nt matter to him, he said he had a job to do. So then I went on to the Hosital. Yes I know the ticket was my own fault. I'm not stupid!!!!
  • by Don Location: Jacksonville, N.C. on Mar 31, 2009 at 06:44 AM
    Officers like this clearly have no business on the force next time hi will injure someone He also definitly should not be getting paid or allowed to just apoligize
  • by woop Location: i on Mar 30, 2009 at 06:29 PM
    my feeling is that the entire video/story was not shown. this is evident by the reference to Moats initial behavior, which was not seen. i am sure cops hear all kinds of stories all the time, and are on the 'defense'. what is wrong here, is that the cop went on and on, wasting time, even after presented with evidence. it was obvious he had an issue with pride. it cost the family precious time with their loved one. that is the part that angers me about this situation. once the cop realized that the guy wasnt just a rude disrespectful punk running a red light, he should have given him a warning or mailed him the ticket, and stopped blowing all that hot air. interesting how this story comes out at the same time that folks in oakland are hailing a parolee who murdered two cops and two swat officers as a 'hero' because he was 'oppressed'. (im sure their families are completely understanding of this..)
  • by Paul Location: Pitt Co on Mar 30, 2009 at 11:00 AM
    True, we cannot judge since we do not know exactly what happened. However, it is never a good sign when your highest boss calls you out for lacking professionalism & common sense, and then apologizing for being embarrassed by you. Having seen some of the dashboard video, it appears the cop was a total idiot. Since the man's boss seems to agree, that seems to be a pretty safe assumption. Oh, and I don't hate cops or expect them to be perfect every time- I have a cop in my family. I do expect them to have some common sense. Their's is an often thankless job, and they do not get the respect they deserve. If you aren't good at it though, find a new line of work.
  • by T.J. Location: Blounts Creek, NC on Mar 30, 2009 at 09:28 AM
    If it had been my mother that was dying, I would probably have been shot by the officer in question. He would of had to of shot me to keep me from going into the hospital to be with her. Right or wrong would not have mattered at that time.
  • by S Location: Washington,NC on Mar 29, 2009 at 09:13 PM
    Having worked with police officers most of my life, I agree that this officer acted inappropriately..What comes through in viewing the video is simple...The officer should have let Mr. Moats & his family go inside once the nurse had verified his story....Unfortunately this officer is very young & arrogant & he just did not use common sense in this case...
  • by Toya Location: Greenville on Mar 29, 2009 at 07:38 PM
    These are some of the dumbess comments I have ever read. This cop was in the wrong no matter what color anybody was. He could have easily followed Mr. Moats into the hospital and handled the situation there if he just had to write him a ticket. The man and his family were going through a very difficult time and it was so inappropriate for the officer to act in this manner over something as simple as that.
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