“I’m Almost Done”

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: March 28, 2009

WRITERS’ NOTE: This is written with apologies and respect to the families of Ryan & Tamishia Moats for their tragic loss.

Texan running back Ryan Moats

Texan running back Ryan Moats

PHILADELPHIA — Here’s an episode of “Dallas” that’s more real than anything J. R. Ewing could ever do; a Black man is stopped by the police for running a red light. The gun is drawn and proper police procedure is in effect; so we think.

It is then revealed a life and death situation is imminent. Not because of anything threatening in the car, but because of the reality the people in the car are attempting to deal with…

According to footage from a dashboard camera inside Officer Robert Powell’s vehicle, first reported by Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA-TV, an intense exchange in which Officer Powell threatened to jail Houston Texans’ running back Ryan Moats, who with his wife, Tamishia, were desperately racing to a hospital upon news that his mother – in – law was near death, was a stark exercise in abuse of power by a police officer.

Powell ordered Tamishia Moats, 27, to get back in the SUV, but after pausing for a few seconds, she and another woman rushed into the hospital. She was by the side of her mother, 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth, when she died a short time later due to complications from breast cancer.

“Get in there,” said Powell, yelling at Tamishia Moats as she exited the vehicle. “Let me see your hands!”

“Excuse me, my mom is dying,” Tamishia Moats said. “Do you understand?”

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

“My mother-in-law is dying! Right now! You’re wasting my time!” Moats yelled. “I don’t understand why you can’t understand that.”

As they argued, Officer Powell got 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.”

By the time the 26-year-old NFL player received a ticket and a lecture from Powell, about 13 minutes had passed. When he and Collinsworth’s father entered the hospital, they learned Collinsworth was dead.

Earl Jackson, Collinsworth’s father, said he knew what Powell was doing was wrong. “This guy, he wouldn’t listen to nobody,” Jackson said in an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth station KDFW-TV.

Moats said he wouldn’t have had a problem with the officer giving him a ticket after letting him go into the hospital.

“I don’t know what he was thinking,” said Moats. “Basically, I was just shocked, very shocked that he wasn’t budging on it. I even said I can’t believe that this was happening.”

Ask any Black man with a car, without a car, riding or walking, and they’ll tell you they can believe it – because it happens every day.

Driving While Black (DWB) Thinking While Black (TWB) Being While Black (BWB), Moats also knew if he wasn’t a semi – celebrity as a NFL football player, there would be no public apology; which makes me even more annoyed for the everyday people who have to endure the dehumanization of an asshole with a gun and a badge abusing that power and the public’s trust.

And before any law enforcement officials wanna get off on an ignorance tip, kick back, lounge and back the fuck up. I come from a family of law enforcement professionals.

I respect the law, but the law should respect everyone. I want all good cops to catch the bad guys, and get home safe every night to their loved ones.

But it’s when you have a numbnuts like this butthead Powell who abuse their power unnecessarily and show atrocious lack of compassion or professionalism for their job that need to be purged and deleted from law enforcement forever – because they never should have been in law enforcement in the first damn place!

Too often, police departments do not put in enough due diligence to weigh the merits against faults of most who are eligible (but not suitable) for police work.

And sadly, too often, the results of that lead to “tragic accidents” – euphemisms for people of color on the wrong end of police revolvers…

Police Chief David Kunkle, in offering the apology on behalf of the Dallas P.D., said the video showed that Moats and his wife “exercised extraordinary patience, restraint in dealing with the behavior of our officer.”

When a muthafucka has a gun pointed at one’s wife, knowing an irresponsible ass could pull the trigger and compound an even greater tragedy, “restraint” is putting it mildly, especially considering the added stress involved.

Given the brevity of the situation, Moats’ persona seemed more suited to wear the badge than the protagonist with his gun drawn, impersonating a peace officer.

“At no time did Mr. Moats identify himself as an NFL football player or expect any kind of special consideration,” Kunkle said. “He handled himself very, very well.”

Brother Moats had no choice, all things considered; because even in that moment of high anxiety, he knew what all Black men know – when Babylon roll up on your ass, they don’t care how many degrees, or material wealth or accomplishments you may have; most police are going to do their best to remind you that you are a Nigger in spite of what you think you are during that phase of dehumanization – and I will make the point that sometimes – some of those protagonists are Black.

It’s not a stretch to say had Moats been White and stopped by Powell there could well have been a different outcome to this story. Not the inevitable death, but possibly the reaffirmation and appreciation of life that those precious seconds could’ve meant to Ryan Moats and his now departed mother – in – law.

At the height of the tension, Powell chided Moats and said he could tow his SUV if he didn’t have insurance and that he could arrest him for fleeing because he didn’t immediately stop when Powell turned on his sirens.

The distance from the light to the hospital was less than a mile.

“I can screw you over,” Powell said. “I’d rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens.”

In spite of the hospital personnel and a fellow officer coming to verify Moats’ situation, Officer Powell’s response to detaining Moats was, “I’m almost done.”

Moats would later say he hoped Powell would lose his job, which is what may have motivated Officer Powell to make his own public statement of apology to Moats after the fact.

Way after the fact.

Of course, once everything was “done,” Ryan Moats had a ticket for running the light, and no chance to speak to his mother – in – law, who was now deceased.

The ticket issued to Moats was later dismissed, but the stigma behind is felt by every working cat trying to do right and earn an honest living. The fact ESPN gave the incident 20 seconds in prime time only expounded on the stark reality that if Ryan Moats wasn’t a pro football player, it would have been another incident in a quagmire of incidents where poor judgment on the part of law enforcement would remain unreported, with police unrepentant, and ordinary citizens under the unpretentious abuse of power.

So, I don’t know if Officer Powell is “almost done.” Well, if he’s not, he should be done — and never to wear a law enforcement badge for anyone ever again.