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Dallas police officer quits after apologizing for his treatment of Moats

  • By Associated Press
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DALLAS -- The police officer who pulled out his gun and threatened an NFL player with jail instead of allowing him inside a hospital where his mother-in-law was dying resigned Wednesday.

Dallas police officer Robert Powell had been placed on leave for the March 18 incident in which he stopped Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats outside Baylor Regional Medical Center in suburban Plano after the player rolled his sport-utility vehicle through a red light. Moats' wife, Tamishia, and other relatives also were in the car.

"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 said in a statement issued through his attorneys.

During the incident, caught on the officer's dashboard camera, Moats pleaded for several minutes to be allowed inside the hospital for the final moments of 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth's life. She died from cancer before Moats got there, while Powell wrote the player a ticket and lectured him.

"I can screw you over," Powell, 25, can be heard saying on the video. "I'd rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens." As Powell and Moats argued, the officer grew irritated. "Shut your mouth," Powell said. "You can either settle down and cooperate or I can just take you to jail for running a red light."

Powell later issued an apology. Moats' agent, Jordan Woy, said the couple has accepted the apology and will meet with Powell because he wanted to apologize in person. Woy said in an e-mail Wednesday that they will meet so "the matter can be finalized and everyone can have closure to this situation."

Powell said he wants the meeting "to personally express my deep regret, sympathy, and to apologize for my poor judgment and unprofessional conduct." He also said he wants to apologize to his fellow officers.

Dallas police said in a statement Wednesday that Powell "resigned under his own accord." Because he resigned while under investigation, Powell won't be eligible for rehire with the department, said police, who added that the internal investigation into Powell's actions will continue.

In the video, Tamishia Moats and another woman disregarded Powell's order to get back inside their vehicle, and they rushed into the hospital. Powell yelled at Tamishia Moats to stay in the SUV.

"Excuse me, my mom is dying," Tamishia Moats said before going into the hospital. "Do you understand?"

Tamishia Moats was by her mother's side when she died a short time later.

Ryan Moats explained that he had waited until there was no traffic before continuing through the red light. When Powell asked for proof of insurance, Moats grew more agitated and told the officer to go find it.

Police said the ticket issued to Moats was dismissed. Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has apologized to the family over the incident, saying, "When we at the command staff reviewed the tape, we were embarrassed, disappointed."

Bob Gorsky, Powell's attorney, said his client believed it was "time to move on." Gorsky said Powell had no immediate employment plans but hopes to return to law enforcement.

"He wanted to keep his job very much, but he considered the toll this story was taking on his family and himself," Gorsky said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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