Officer Robert Powell: I Can Screw You Over

Drugs: What They're Called On The Street


NFL player Ryan Moats stopped for a red light, but proceeded through after he’d determined it was safe to do so. What was his hurry? His beloved mother-in-law, Jo, was in the hospital, just seconds away from death.

Moats and his wife had received the devastating news and were on their way to the hospital when Dallas police officer Robert Powell observed Moats’s stop-and-go at the traffic light. Powell then activated his emergency equipment (that’s cop speak for turned on his lights and siren) and followed Moats into the hospital parking lot. That’s when things really got ugly.

Let’s examine the officer’s actions. Was he right or wrong for holding Moats for 13 long, agonizing minutes while his mother-in-law lay dying? You be the judge.

Was Officer Powell in the right for:

1) Ordering Moats and wife to remain at their car?

2) Moat’s wife refused to stay at the car. Powell draws his weapon.

3) Threatening to take Moats to jail if he doesn’t produce his insurance documents.

4) Moats pleads his case, but Powell tells him to shut his mouth.

5) A second officer confirms Moats’s story about his mother-in-law, stressing the urgency. Officer Powell remains relentless, refusing to allow Moats the opportunity to be at his mother-in-law’s side.

6) Officer Powell threatens to issue a separate ticket to Moats for parking illegally in the hospital parking lot. (In most areas, the police may not issue a traffic summons for handicap parking violations on private property).

7) A hospital nurse comes out to say that Moats’s mother-in-law is dying that very second, and that’s Moats is needed inside. Officer Powell responds by saying, “All right. I’m almost done.” Then he finishes writing the summons, and proceeds to lecture Moats about running the red light.

8) Officer Powell tells Moats he can “screw him over” if he doesn’t cooperate.

Moats’s mother-in-law passed away before he reached her room.

Chief David Kunkle has apologized for Officer Powell’s actions. Officer Powell is currently on paid suspension, and has offered a written apology to the Moats family.

Here are the unedited in-car videos of the Moats traffic stop.

Part 1


Part 2


* Tomorrow, our guest blogger is Thomas B. Sawyer, head writer of the Murder She Wrote television series.

9 replies
  1. jnantz
    jnantz says:

    If I were Moats, I can honestly say I’d want to kill the man when I came out of the hospital after finding out I was too late. I EXPECT this ridiculous lout to be fired based solely on the media scrutiny he’s now receiving. Once that happens, if this testosterone-filled jackass gets another job as even a security guard for a radioactive landfill, it’s a travesty.

  2. Sarah Grimm
    Sarah Grimm says:

    Moats was much more polite than a lot of people I know would have been. I was horrified when I overheard this video (DH was watching it the other night).

    Sad any way you look at it. But the fact that he was very close to his mother-in-law, combined with the fact that his wife had to go through the loss without her husband at her side and worse, knowing her husband was stuck in the parking lot with this butthead cop… I can’t imagine.

  3. SZ
    SZ says:

    That really is bad. I am sure Moats would have handed over the keys, licnese . . . and paid any fine handed out later just to get going.

  4. Terry
    Terry says:

    Power trips and lack of compassion irritate the heck out of me. And, sad to say, so often it’s the negative impression that gets generalized and carried over, putting ‘all’ LEOs in a bad light.

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dave – I agree. This was a huge case of prickitis.

    We’ve all heard many “stories” about why a traffic offender was speeding, or why they ran a red light. But in this case, the driver, Moats, was stopped in a parking spot, in the hospital parking lot. His story could have been easily verified, after the fact. After all, he wasn’t going anywhere. The officer could have easily pulled his patrol car behind the suspect vehicle, blocking it in.

    Even if Moats had been lying, which he wasn’t, the officer’s attitude was poor.

    Carla – This guy is rotten apple all the way to the core.

    Linda – True about the wife, but Moats said he felt as if his mother-in-law was like his own mother. They were that close. Sad, sad, sad.

    I agree with Dave’s second post. And, it wouldn’t matter if Moats had been convicted of 100 earlier traffic offenses. That doesn’t excuse what happened during this one.

  6. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Hi Carla.

    If I may jump in and make a comment or two on your post.

    As to the paid leave, he’s probably been put off the job while the matter goes through an investigative process. Later, if found guilty of departmental charges against him, he could be disciplined up to and including dismissal. Much would depend on their department’s procedural rules, but I doubt he’s being punished now, just off the street until their internal process is complete.

    As for the previous charges with the wife of the NFL player, don’t make much over the fact that four of five charges were dropped. Charges are usually dropped in plea bargain sessions, which most cases go through. Now, the officer may have done other things that indicate a problem in that situation, but charges dropped is not in and of itself anything from which to draw a conclusion.

    I would agree he certainly does appear to be a bad apple, regardless of the reason.

  7. l.c.mccabe
    l.c.mccabe says:

    How sad.

    The officer may have had the legal right to do what he did, but on the human decency scale he registers mighty low.

    I’m sure that there would have been ways to have handled this differently.

    He chose not to, probably because his ego was involved.

    At least the dying woman’s daughter was at the bedside in her time of passing. It is a shame that her daughter’s husband was prevented from being there as well.


  8. Carla F
    Carla F says:

    I’d be interested in knowing why he’s on “paid leave”. To me that equates to a reward; take some vacation time while we sort things out.

    No apology in the world is going to fix what he did.

    ESPN reported that he was involved in another incident where 5 citations were issued to another NFL player’s wife for making an illegal U-turn. Four of the citations were later dropped. If this is how he treats people with media access, it’s frightening to think what he does to people who can’t afford attorneys to stand and speak for them. I’d like to believe he’s making up for “personal shortcomings”.

    One bad apple…

  9. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Good morning, Lee.

    He was wrong.

    The simplest solution (assuming you had an officer who wanted to find a simple solution) would be to go in with the man to confirm or debunk his story and take appropriate action from there, or get his driver’s license and then allow him to go in and you can check on the story yourself. Even if you are blocks from the hospital, you can make sure the individual is not wanted or in a stolen car, and let them go on as you follow up at the hospital.

    In this case, however, they were right outside the hospital entrance and the solution would have been so simple.

    I saw a snippet of the video over the weekend, but did not hear all of the details you relate. None of the above solutions would have worked in this case, because the officer was obviously being a prick. This is what gives officers a bad name. What is sad is that we don’t see videos of the hundreds of officers that take the solutions listed above and avoid the negative publicity this officer has gained for all of law enforcement.

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