Shocking traffic stop for Moats
Texans RB detained while relative lay dying
By Steve Thompson and Tanya Eiserer | Dallas Morning News
March 27, 2009
DALLAS ? The Dallas Police Department confirmed Thursday that an officer drew a gun on Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats and his wife after stopping them to give them a ticket even as they begged to hurry to the bedside of her mother.
As he rushed his family to the hospital, Moats, 26, rolled through a red light. A Dallas police officer pulled their vehicle over outside the emergency room at the Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
?He was pointing a gun at me as soon as I got out of the car,? said Moats? wife, Tamishia.
Seconds later, Moats and his wife explained that her mother was dying inside the hospital.
?You really want to go through this?? Moats pleaded. ?My mother-in-law is dying. Right now!?
Dallas police officials said Officer Robert Powell told his commanders he believed he was doing his job and that he drew his gun but did not point it.
Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said Powell was not necessarily acting improperly when he pulled his weapon but that once he realized what was happening he should have put the gun back and offered to help the family in any way.
Kunkle apologized to the family and announced that Powell would be on paid leave pending an internal investigation.
?His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit,? 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, spent several minutes writing Moats a ticket and threatened him with arrest during the incident last week. The scene was captured by a dashboard video camera.
?I can screw you over,? the officer told Moats. ?I?d rather not do that.?
Moats? mother-in-law, Jonetta Collinsworth, 45, was struggling with breast cancer that had spread throughout her body.
About midnight March 17, the Moatses received word that they needed to hurry back to the hospital if they wanted to see Collinsworth before she died. The couple, along with Collinsworth?s father and an aunt, jumped into the vehicle and headed back toward the hospital. They exited the highway just down the street from the hospital.
Moats turned on his hazard lights. He stopped at a red light, where, he said, the only nearby motorist signaled for him to go ahead. He went through. Powell, watching traffic from a hidden spot, flipped on his lights and sirens. In less than a minute, he caught up to the Moats and followed for about 20 more seconds as Moats found a parking spot outside the emergency room.
Tamishia, 27, was the first out. Powell drew his gun and yelled at her to get back in.
?My mom is dying,? she said. Tamishia Moats and her great-aunt ignored the officer and headed into the hospital.
Powell lectured Moats, telling him at one point, ?If you want to keep this going, I?ll just put you in handcuffs and I?ll take you to jail.?
Hospital security guards arrived and told Powell that the Moatses? relative really was upstairs dying. Another hospital staffer came out and spoke with a Plano police officer who had arrived.
?Hey, that?s the nurse,? the Plano officer told Powell. ?She said that the mom?s dying right now.?
?All right,? Powell replied. ?I?m almost done.?
It had been about 13 minutes.
Moats and Collinsworth?s father went into the hospital, where they found Collinsworth had died, with her daughter at her side.
The ticket issued to Moats was dismissed, a police spokesman said.
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