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Some Guys Just Gotta Be Jerks

Sarah's picture
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Like Dallas PD, which I've complained about elsewhere, needs another a$$h0le in the public eye, one popped up Thursday to stop a man from making it to his wife's dying mother's bedside.

No biggie, you say? Happens every day, you say? All cops are jerks, you say?

Well, this time the black man being stopped -- who admitted going through a red light en route to the hospital -- is a backup NFL running back for the Houston Texans, and the Dallas PD has put the jerk on administrative leave.

That's a step in the right direction. A better one would be to take this power-tripper's TCLOSE away, permanently. If he feels the need to use his powers for personal gain, he should understand the need to pay the price. Self-righteous, you say? No. Justice, I say. Look, you put on a uniform, you wear (or carry) a badge, you buckle on a holster and firearm, you are supposed to act like a grownup. You are supposed to set a good example. What you are NOT supposed to do is behave as though you are, personally, God's gift to the universe and anybody you encounter while you're working is the scum of the earth.

Is this special treatment because Moats is an NFL player? Quien sabe? (My private feeling is, yeah, probably. But maybe I'm wrong about that. I hope so. I hope the DPD has some internal procedures to discipline this sort of behavior. I hope the chief has the integrity to put an officer on administrative leave for treating the manager of a Mickey D's like this as well as a football star.)

Not every cop in Dallas is as big a jerk as Powell. But for now, they all look like they are, because of him.

It's not like the NFL is full of angels. But this young man was responding to an emergency, taking his wife to her mother's bedside when they received notice that she was dying. He had his wife's dad in the car with him, too. And Moats behaved ... in the most un-entitled manner possible, as evidenced by the video from the dashboard cam in Powell's car, even after Powell pulled a gun on Moats' wife, then pointed it at Moats and threatened to "screw you over".

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.

Three years on the force, and this guy still thinks he's entitled to behave like Rush Limbaugh with a gun? He's not fit to wear the uniform or the badge. Period.

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.

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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

thing, I think you're right.
Nothing about this incident was exemplary EXCEPT the conduct of this young man, his wife and their father-in-law. That video is pretty disturbing from my point of view.

Do I think Chief Kunkle would have backed Powell if it had been -- oh, say, yours truly? -- busted in that hospital parking lot? Probably. Seriously.

ESPN led on this last night and hammered it as their every-30-minutes lead story for, like, six hours straight. (I caught it the first time during the halftime break of the NBA game I watched -- Miami; at 4:30 this morning local when I crashed it was still the lead story.) Once again, it's the "sportz guyz" who do the actual reportage.

(ahem. full disclosure: my last newspaper gig started as a sports gig, and my last paid writing gig was covering wcbb.)

Submitted by lambert on

I still remember waiting for the Dallas Light Rail and it was, like 100 degrees in the shade, and no train for miles in either direction, and a young lady with her young son crossed the tracks directly, instead of walking a quarter mile up to the walkway, and then a quarter mike back.

So a cop is strolling along in his shorts, orders them back, and then makes them walk all the way to the walkway (and then back down the other side).

Yay, Dallas. The woman and her son were, of course, black. I'd crossed the tracks myself moments before.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

My problem wasn't so much with the stop as it was that the guy apparently had a gun pulled on him on top of the cop acting like a total jerk. Bringing the gun in for no apparent reason takes this to a whole other level of power-tripping.

Realist's picture
Submitted by Realist on

Put yourself in his place - he's making a stop of someone who just ran a red light, and has no idea what to expect. People start pouring out of the stopped vehicle yelling at him. Can you blame him for feeling threatened?

My problem with Officer Powell is that he continued to treat the situation as a threat even after it became obvious that wasn't the case. He seemed to think he was entitled to abuse his authority to punish Mr. Moats for upsetting him, regardless of the circumstances.

We give police officers enormous amounts of power, and therefore rightly expect them to exhibit above-average discretion at all times. I think most reasonable people would agree that Officer Powell failed to exhibit that discretion. At this point, the question is whether we really want someone like that running around with a badge and a gun. To me, the answer is clearly "no."

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

working security on Barksdale's alert ramps, standing barricades after a tornado in Shreveport trying to keep the (physically damaged houses) neighborhood un-looted, working the gate or the perimeter patrol. You never ever know what's going to happen when you stop a car. You might run into a drunk, or a guy trying to get his wife to the hospital to deliver a baby, or a frightened mother with a child in the passenger seat bleeding from a partly-amputated thumb.

Or you might run into Timothy McVeigh.

It behooves you, always, to act as if you're an adult with a modicum of common sense. Drawing a weapon on someone who's running into a hospital is usually not demonstrative of possessing common sense. The rest of Powell's behavior (including his resignation "under fire" for his shameless lack of adult common sense) doesn't argue better for him.

Powell could've determined that the situation was a stressful one for the people he had stopped *separate* from his stopping them. The smart approach when somebody's busted speeding or rolling thru a light / stop sign is to ask if there's an emergency. In this case there was, and the appropriate response was maybe to say, "OK, please be more careful" and get the hell out of the Moats' way, if not provide them an escort -- but I don't live in Dallas and the cops around here will help you get somewhere in a hurry if you need to (I know. I've had 'em stop me when I was ferrying bloody accident victims to the ER. They were very, very, very helpful once they understood the situation.)

And yes, I'm of the opinion that Powell is unsuitable for police duty. I think at the least he ought to lose his license to work in law enforcement in Texas. (Apparently the Moats' incident is not his only such stop.)

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

the behavior afterward certainly was not.

I have to say that I've NEVER, ever, been stopped by a police officer whose first question wasn't "do you have some kind of emergency" when I was moving too fast or "California-stopped" a sign (a very slow roll thru, usually during a right turn; yes, I used to do this all the time in rural Texas, and yes, I got stopped for it. Most memorably was the time I was on my way home from a dental appointment, with bloody saliva leaking over my numbed lower-lip. I must've *looked* like an emergency case that time, because the officer just said, "Please be more careful" and let me go.)

Having said that, my philosophy is, "If you're gonna run a red light, turn left doing it."