Powell Resigns From Dallas Police Department

Ryan Moats was stopped over a red light violation while mom-in-law died

By Frank Heinz and Omar Villafranca
|  Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009  |  Updated 9:45 PM PDT
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Officer Delays NFL Player as Relative Dies

Dallas Police Department

Robert Powell resigned from the Dallas Police Department April 1 after drawing heavy criticism for delaying a man from visiting his dying mother-in-law.

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Officer Delays NFL Player as Relative Dies

A Dallas police officer detained an NFL player in a hospital parking lot despite his pleas that his mother-in-law was dying inside.
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After issuing a public apology last week, Robert Powell has resigned from his position with the Dallas Police Department.

The announcement was made just before noon Wednesday, and Powell released the following statement:

"With a heavy heart and great sadness, I resigned from the Dallas Police Department this morning. 

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.

I still hope to speak with the Moats family to personally express my deep regret, sympathy, and to apologize for my poor judgment and unprofessional conduct.

I also want to apologize to my fellow officers. I have sincere respect and admiration for the men and women of the Dallas Police Department and the work they perform daily, and I wish them well." 

Powell has been under intense criticism after he delayed Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats and his family from entering a hospital where Moats' mother-in-law was dying.

Moats was stopped for running a red light, but Powell lectured and delayed the man from entering the hospital for more than 15 minutes -- even after hospital personnel validated  Moats' claims. Moats' mother-in-law passed before he was able to visit with her. Despite that, Moats accepted Powell's apology on Monday morning.

Moats' wife told NBCDFW that she was surprised Powell had resigned. The Moatses said Wednesday night that they do not plan to meet with Powell.

Powell's attorney, Bob Gorsky, said the 25-year-old struggled with the decision to resign, but figured it was best.

"It was very, very important for him to keep his job," Gorsky said. "He wanted his job desperately, but I think he just made the decision that this whole story was taking too much of a toll on him, his family and the police department."

Gorsky also said he and his client think the Dallas Police Department did a poor job of handling the scrutiny. Gorsky said he didn't like the decision by police to release Powell's picture when the officer had received a death threat.

"In a time when the city was mad at my client, the police department put out his photograph for all to see what he looked like and that was wrong, and the chief of police and the department should be ashamed for what they did," Gorsky. "I don't think he was happy having been thrown under the bus from day one."

According to Chief David Kunkle, Powell's actions "embarrassed" the Dallas Police Department.  He wasn't alone in his thinking, as Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and City Councilwoman Angela Hunt offered public opinions as well.

"Powell's behavior indicates a lack of common sense and common decency, and he should not continue to serve on our police force," Hunt wrote on her blog.

Since the incident with Moats became public last week, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas stepped forward and said Powell mistreated and arrested his wife after she made an illegal U-Turn last July.

Powell had been placed on paid leave pending the results of an internal police investigation.  Because Powell resigned of his own accord during the course of the investigation, he is not eligible for rehire with the Dallas Police Department, officials said.

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