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Op-Ed: NFL Player delayed by Dallas Police Officer while loved one dies

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 26, 2009 in Sports
As his 45-year-old mother-in-law slipped from life, Ryan Moats is denied access to her side because he ran a red light in safe passage ironically get to her side before she died. The ticketing officer's behavior can only be described as heartless.
No one wants the call that a loved one, especially a parent, is drawing in their last few breaths and need to hurry to the hospital if they want to see them again before they die. Yet those calls can leave the brain scattered and the heart racing. For some, that call is made from another city or state, prompting the immediate purchasing of plane tickets and frantic packing. For others, it is jumping in one's vehicle and "getting there" as fast as they can, taking into consideration personal safety but bypassing many of the street laws such as stopping at four-way stops where no one else is seen or running red lights where there is no oncoming traffic.
You temporarily become an emergency vehicle, lights flashing and feeling the critical response and safety conundrum. It is a life and death matter where time is of the most critical of factors.
That call came in around midnight on March 17th for the mother-in-law of NFL's Houston Texans running back, Ryan Moats. Jonetta Collinsworth had breast cancer that had spread through her entire body. However, the race to the hospital for the family proved to be an event of what looks like police harassment captured on video as a young officer named Robert Powell shows absolutely no sympathy whatsoever towards the family situation and holds up Moats for nearly twenty minutes.
After stopping at a red light and then being passed through by another vehicle, Powell gave chase right into the parking lot of the hospital. During this time, Moats tried to plea with officer Powell. His wife had jumped out of the SUV and was tearfully panicked as her mother was taking her final breath just inside the building, trying to explain the situation but the Powell but he yells at her to get back inside and "Let me see your hands!" Her aunt then exited the SUV and they ignored the officer's orders and went inside the hospital.
Jonetta Collinsworth, age 45, died before Moats and Mr. Collinsworth, Jonetta's father, could get to her bedside. She did die with her daughter who had defied the officer of the "law" by her side.
If the video isn't disturbing enough, here is a summary of events:
Moats turned on his hazard lights. He stopped at a red light, where, he said, the only nearby motorist signaled for him to go ahead. He went through.
Powell, watching traffic from a hidden spot, flipped on his lights and sirens. In less than a minute, he caught up to the SUV and followed for about 20 more seconds as Moats found a parking spot outside the emergency room.
[in response to Tamisha exiting the SUV] "Get in there!" he yelled. "Let me see your hands!"
"My mom is dying," she explained.
"I waited until no traffic was coming," Moats told Powell, explaining his passage through the red light. "I got seconds before she's gone, man."
Powell demanded his license and proof of insurance. Moats produced his license but said he didn't know where the insurance paperwork was.
"Just give me a ticket or whatever," he said, beginning to sound exasperated and a little argumentative.
"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."
"If you're going to give me a ticket, give me a ticket."
"Your attitude says that you need one."
"All I'm asking you is just to hurry up."
Powell began a lecture.
"If you want to keep this going, I'll just put you in handcuffs," the officer said, "and I'll take you to jail for running a red light."
Powell made several more points, including that the SUV was illegally parked. Moats replied "Yes sir" to each.
"Understand what I can do," Powell concluded. "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."
During this time, hospital security guards came outside and tried to explain to the local policeman that there was indeed someone really dying in the hospital but Powell showed no concern for the family. A heartless young man who continued to run a warrant check on Moats. He found none. Another police officer arrived and tried to get Powell off of his delay tactics and actually said to him:
"Hey, that's the nurse," the Plano officer told 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."
To which Powell replied "I'm almost done." And yet, Powell continued to lecture the man whose mother-in-law was dying just feet from them on attitude. The love of his life was losing her mother at 45 years young and he was being treated poorly in the parking lot over a red light when time was critical. Although the young woman, Moat's 27-year-old wife, was able to be by her mother's side while she slipped from life, Moats was not able to be by his wife's side and a father didn't get to tell his baby girl goodbye.
Dallas police have dropped the ticket and launched an investigation into the incident. Robert Powell has been reassigned during the investigative process and an apology was issued by the Dallas Police Department, stating that some of the things said by their own and captured on dash cam were "disturbing."
Taken in context: early morning, a speeding SUV full of any folks with flashing lights and running a red light, sure it would be enough to warrant a chase by police. But the second they pulled into the Emergency Room parking lot and explained the situation to the officer, couldn't he have taken the driver's license and then allowed him to go up to be with his family? Furthermore, Moats was respectful to the officer, especially when the situation was taken in context. There are options. And in police stops, it doesn't require nearly twenty minutes to write a ticket unless of course, there is an agenda to fill.
While Powell was reported to have told others he believed he was doing his job, that statement has not been validated yet by any police official. Many will say it is racially motivated...can you disagree?
Lincoln Parish, LA: Collinsworth, Jonetta, 45, of Ruston, died Tuesday; services at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mount Calm Baptist Church, Arcadia; burial in Mount Calm Cemetery, Arcadia; arrangements by Paradise Funeral Home, Arcadia.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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