'Like We Were Dogs': The Story of Ryan Moats

The first time Ryan Moats touched a football in an NFL game he ran
it 40-yards for a touchdown. That was part of an 11-carry 114-yard
debut for the Philadelphia Eagles rookie.

This would seem to be a charmed life. Currently, Moats plays for
the Houston Texans in the football mad Lone Star State. But none of
that protected Moats from one of the uglier cases of DWB (driving while
black) that's come across the wires. Moats' money and fame couldn't
insulate him. But a police dashboard video camera recorded the ugly
interaction shedding light on a practice all too common in these United

Moats was rushing, hazard lights on, with his wife, Tamishia and
her family to the Baylor Regional Medical Center. Tamishia's mother,
Joanetta, Collinsworth, was dying from advanced breast cancer, and the
hospital put out the word that they had to get to her bedside right
away if they wanted to say good bye. But then their lives collided with
the 25-year-old Powell, and the Moats family ordeal became something
more than a personal tragedy.

Powell pulled the Moats family over in the hospital parking lot for
rolling through a red light. Tamishia jumped out of the car to rush to
her mother , and Powell drew his gun, yelling, "Get in there! Let me
see your hands!"

"My mom is dying," she shouted back.

"I saw in his eyes that he really did not care," Tamishia Moats
said. Ms. Moats and her great-aunt ignored the officer and headed into
the hospital. (Powell says he "merely" drew his gun, while Ms. Moats
says it was pointed at her as she rushed in the facility. Ryan Moats
has said that he feared for her life.)

Ryan Moats and his grandfather in law - the father of the dying Ms.
Collinsworth, were then kept for 13 minutes. "You really want to go
through this right now?" Moats pleaded. "My mother-in-law is dying.
Right now!"

The response was the threat of arrest. "I can screw you over. I
would rather not do that. You obviously will dictate everything that
happens; and right now, your attitude sucks."

Moats tried to explain why he rolled through a red light: "I waited
until no traffic was coming. I got seconds before she's gone, man."
Powell responded that he wanted a license, registration, and proof of

Moats began to lose patience and said, "Just give me a ticket or
whatever." "Shut your mouth," Powell told him. "You can cooperate and
settle down, or I can just take you to jail for running a red light."

After Moats urged him to hurry up so he could be there with his
wife, Powell - in a slow cadence - spoke down to Moats like he was a
toddler. "If you want to keep this going, I'll just put you in
handcuffs," Powell said, "and I'll take you to jail for running a red

Moats began to say "Yes sir" repeatedly, clearly trying to be done with the Officer.

But Powell wasn't done. "Understand what I can do," he continued.
"I can tow your truck. I can charge you with fleeing. I can make your
night very difficult." "I understand," Moats responded. "I hope you'll
be a great person and not do that."

As this is taking place, hospital security guards rushed to the scene to tell Powell that Ms. Collinsworth was on death's door.

Powell ignored them, wasting several more minutes checking Moats
for arrest warrants. Then a nurse ran to the car insisting that the
Moats family be allowed inside.

"Hey, that's the nurse," another officer can be heard telling
Powell. "She said that the mom's dying right now, and she's wanting to
know if they can get him up there before she dies." " All right,"
Powell replied. "I'm almost done."

Moats and the father of Jonetta Collinsworth, then ran inside, but
unlike Ms. Moats, did not make it to Ms. Collinsworth's bedside in time
to say goodbye.

The furor generated by the videotape has led Powell to be
reassigned and the ticket to be dismissed. Police spokesperson Lt. Andy
Harvey said, "There were some things that were said that were
disturbing, to say the least."

This wasn't the first "high profile arrest" for Powell. He placed
Maritza Thomas, the wife of former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Zach Thomas
in cuffs and then prison for three hours. The crime: an illegal u-turn.
"This in no way compares to what happened to Ryan Moats and his
family," Zach Thomas told The Dallas Morning News. "But we wanted to
tell our story, not knowing how many others have been affected by
Officer Powell...."

Moats said after the fact, "For him to not even be sympathetic at
all, and basically we're dogs or something and we don't matter - it
basically shocked me," he said.

It is shocking, but it isn't rare.

According to the most recent Justice Department report, Blacks were
almost three times as likely as whites to be searched at a traffic
stop. They were also twice as likely to be arrested, and almost four
times as likely to be the victim of "excessive force."

This is also the latest of a series of high profile confrontations between cops and jocks.

When you layer the "driving while black" pandemic on top of the
dynamic of pro athletes more comfortable on a pedestal than in a police
car, you have a recipe for future tragedies. Let the Moats's ordeal
serve as a warning and not a harbinger. And let Officer Powell be
compelled to find another line of work.

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