In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 18, Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats was faced with the tragic loss of his mother-in-law, Jonetta Collinsworth, to breast cancer.
While the death of a loved one is painful enough in and of itself, the pain was only magnified as a result of the actions by one Dallas policeman, Officer Robert Powell.
After being held up for just short of 15 minutes by Powell for running a red light, Moats arrived to his mother-in-law's hospital room too late to say his final goodbye. Collinsworth had passed away just moments earlier.
The saddest and most frustrating part of this is that this could have been avoided with just a small dose of sensitivity and understanding from Officer Powell.
There is no denying that Moats broke the law. After stopping at a red light to check for traffic, Moats continued driving before given the green light.
He also continued driving for what appeared to be a few hundred yards after Powell began pursuit, before stopping in front of the Emergency Room entrance. At this point, he and three family members frantically jumped out of the vehicle in an effort to rush into the hospital.
Before they could do so, however, Powell drew his gun and repeatedly ordered, "Get in there!" The passengers put their up hands, and Moat's wife, Tamishia—the deceased's daughter—attempted to explain, "Excuse me, my mom is dying."
But Powell would hear none of it, completely ignoring her statement, and demanded that they get back to their vehicle.
This is where I have my first problem.
I have no qualms with an officer pulling over someone when they violate the law—in this case, running a red light. I also have no problems with an officer pulling his or her gun to protect themselves against any possible attack when several suspects unexpectedly leap out of a car.
What I cannot seam to get through my head, however, is why a vehicle with four passengers running a red light—with their hazard lights on no less—in route to the front entrance of the Emergency Room, didn't seem to drive home to Powell the all too obvious possibility that maybe—just maybe—there was a real emergency.
I have (regrettably) been pulled over 10-plus times in my life, and every time that I have ever been pulled over, the first question out of the officer's mouth as he approached my window was "Is there an emergency?"
This includes a time when I attempted to evade the officers and lead them down several back alleys before finally pulling over. Still, with his gun in hand as he walked up to my vehicle, the officer on that day asked me if there was an emergency.
I would like to think that if I had my car parked in front of an Emergency Room, and I was obviously shaken and distressed, that the officer who pulled me over would have the decency to ask that all-important question, particularly if I was shouting, "My mother is dying!"
But Powell was not interested in "protecting and serving" the Moats family, and was instead more interested in whether or not the vehicle was insured. Priorities.
The next several minutes were a mixture of Powell demanding insurance on the vehicle and Moats pleading for leniency due to the dire circumstances.
When Moats finally understood that Powell was not the type who could be reasoned with, he elected instead to stop arguing and to try the "yes, sir" approach in an effort to speed up the process so that he could get inside.
For almost two minutes, Powell made statement after statement explaining to Moats all the things that he "could do," while Moats continually answered with "Yes, sir."
"I can screw you over. I’d rather not do that. ... I could charge you with fleeing right now. Understand what I could do. ... I could make your life very difficult."
Then, when the dialogue between the two finally ended, Powell spent about six and a half minutes in his squad car preparing Moats' ticket. During that time, he had two separate people from the hospital approach him in his vehicle to let him know of the severity of the situation.
Collinsworth was dying, and she was dying right now.
But he still took his sweet time; time that Collinsworth didn't have left.
Before letting Moats go, Powell elected to give him one more life lesson—one that he could stand to take himself—letting Moats know that "attitude's everything."
Moats finally was allowed to go into the hospital and be with his family, where he joined them in mourning their loss.
Meanwhile, Powell yucked it up with his Plano PD companion, who joined this "chase" because he "was thinkin' maybe it was something better," about his only police chase earlier this year in January.
Its amazing what a 17-minute clip can teach you about two different people.
Despite the tragic circumstances involved, I learned that Ryan Moats is one hell of a stand-up guy.
In the face of one of the most trying times that someone could possibly face, he conducted himself with more class than I could possibly hope to.
Not once did he cuss Powell. He did not make threats or try and use his NFL status to gain favor with the officer. He did not even raise his voice in anger until his and his family's repeated attempts to explain the situation fell on deaf ears.
He showed that there still are professional athletes out there that can conduct themselves with grace and dignity.
When enough time has passed, and some emotional wounds have healed, Moats will be able to look back on this incident and know that he represented himself, his family, and the NFL wonderfully.
Unfortunately, it also taught me that, although the minority, there are still "bad cops" out there who could care less about the people they are supposed to serve.
It taught me that Powell should not be wearing a police badge—for Dallas or any other city. He is the perfect example of what a police officer should not be, and he gives a bad name to all the true heroes that have worn a badge before him.
He showed no compassion, no sense of duty, and was seemingly only concerned about establishing that he was "in charge," consequences be damned.
He made the conscious decision to disregard the pleas from a family in distress, and instead elected to make a terrible night for them even worse. He claimed that he really could screw Moats over, and he followed through with that promise.
Thanks to Powell, Ryan Moats was not able to do what he otherwise would have been able to do; say goodbye to his mother-in-law.
May Jonetta Collinsworth rest in piece, and God be with Ryan Moats and his family.
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