Dallas police officer resigns over Ryan Moats' traffic stop

Dallas police officer resigns over Ryan Moats' traffic stop

Credit: AP / Dallas Morning News

This video frame grab taken from a police dashboard camera shows NFL player Ryan Moats outside Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas early March 18, 2009.


by By STEVE THOMPSON / The Dallas Morning News


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 20 at 2:56 PM

The Dallas police officer who has been the target of national ridicule for detaining an NFL player as his mother-in-law was dying resigned Wednesday, according to a statement issued through his attorneys.


"With a heavy heart and great sadness, I resigned from the Dallas Police Department this morning," Officer Robert Powell said in the written statement. "I made this decision in the hope that my resignation will allow the Dallas Police Department, my fellow officers, and the citizens of Dallas to better reflect on this experience, learn from the mistakes made, and move forward."

Powell, who publicly apologized last week for adding to the family's grief, said he still hopes to speak with the family of Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats to express his "deep regret, sympathy, and to apologize for my poor judgment and unprofessional conduct."

He also apologized to his fellow officers.

"I have sincere respect and admiration for the men and women of the Dallas Police Department and the work they perform daily," his statement said, "and I wish them well."

In a televised interview Monday, the embattled officer said he understood why video of the incident made people angry, and that he wished he had acted differently.

"If I were in that situation again, I would take them inside and let them be with their mother, which is where they needed to be," Powell told KTVT-TV (Channel 11).

Moats, 26, told police that he rolled through a red light with his hazard lights flashing on March 17 as he was rushing his family to Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano to visit his dying mother-in-law. Powell pulled over the Moatses' SUV outside the emergency room. He kept Moats and another relative there for 13 minutes as he wrote a traffic ticket.

The Moats family has said Powell pointed his gun at Tamishia Moats, Ryan Moats' wife. Powell said he doesn't recall that.

Powell has said the outrage the incident sparked has been difficult for him and his wife, who have two young children.

"To say that I'm scared of being fired - I would say it's an understatement," he told KTVT-TV. "I'm terrified."

Moats, a graduate of Bishop Lynch High School, lives in Frisco.

Moats told police that he stopped at a red light near the hospital, hazard lights flashing, and then drove through it after the motorist with the right-of-way signaled for him to go ahead.

"I got there as safely as I could," Moats said in a television interview.

Powell, watching traffic from a hidden spot, turned on his lights and sirens, caught up with Moats' vehicle and followed it into a hospital parking lot.

There, the police officer - who was later been placed on leave - detained Moats, threatening and berating him.

Moats' mother-in-law died before he could get in to see her.

The NFL player appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America on Monday morning.

"I was afraid for ... [my wife] because he was pointing a gun at her," Ryan Moats said.

When Powell pulled him over, "I didn't realize what was going on at the time," Moats said. "Once I got out, I realized it was pretty serious.

"I understand about the red light, but I thought he'd have some kind of sympathy."

Tamishia Moats said the family has not heard from Powell personally.

"It would be comforting to get an apology from him," she said. "We definitely would accept his apology."