Keeping bad situations from turning worse

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - They're, "embarrassed and disappointed." Dallas police are now apologizing for one of their officers keeping Ryan Moats, a running back with the Houston Texans, and his family tied up after a traffic stop in a hospital parking lot. Meanwhile, the player's mother-in-law died just inside the hospital doors.

The story has picked up a lot of national attention, and it's generating a lot of questions. Namely, what's in place to keep it from happening to you? We tried to find the answer.

"Do we have a problem," the police officer asked the NFL player.

"We don't have a problem," Moats replied. "My mother-in-law is dying! I don't understand why you can't understand that!"

That was where the confrontation ended, but dash cam video showed Ryan Moats' SUV with flashers on, running through stop signs trying to get to the hospital.

"In this situation, an officer observes someone running a red light, we have no idea why they ran the red light," said Officer Don Martin with Tyler PD.

Martin said police cannot allow anyone to break the law. In cases like this, a traffic stop would be justified.

"We can't tell them that they can speed," said Martin. "We can't tell them that they can run red lights. When they do all of the above, it makes it dangerous for the public out there."

But Officer Martin said each situation is different. When it comes to emergencies outside the car, there's really no protocol officers follow. Instead, martin said discretion becomes crucial.

"We're going to use good judgment - our common sense, and find out what is going on," explained Martin. "He can say, 'hey, I'm going to keep your license. You go on to the hospital. Drive safely. I'll meet you there.' You can deal with your situation, and I'll deal with you afterwards."

But there are policies in place to deal with emergencies inside the car.

"We're going to pull them over once we assess that there is an emergency in the vehicle, more than likely, we're going to call emergency personnel to our location," he said.

And, if help is far away...

"...and we see that it's a life threatening situation, we're going to get them to the hospital so that they can get attended to," he said.

Confrontations can then be avoided to keep bad situations from turning worse.

Officer Martin said you should try to get to the hospital as quickly, and as safely as possible, obeying all traffic laws.

Thursday, the Dallas Police Chief apologized for the incident.

"When we in the command staff reviewed the tapes, we were embarrassed, disappointed...[it's] hard to find the right words and still be professional in my role as a police chief, but the behavior was not appropriate."

The officer involved in the stop has been put on leave, and the ticket was dropped.