New England Patriots Linebacker Elandon Roberts says he recently got out of his Porsche with his hands up after being approached by police.
Deputy Adam Watkins then reportedly yelled back at Roberts to get back into his car and the NFL player complied quickly. According to dash cam video obtained by USA Today, the deputy then called for back up over the “big Black man” who “wouldn’t comply” with his orders.
Roberts was reportedly stopped in the Houston suburb of Richmond on March 10 for a basic speeding infraction, but wasn’t told of the charge until nine minutes after he was stopped.
“Unfortunately, these types of things are happening all too often to African Americans,” Roberts said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “People are becoming desensitized to them. Being harassed in your own yard simply because you are a 'big Black man’ should never become the norm. To the person being harassed, it is frightening, disrespectful and embarrassing.”
He continued, “I have no interest in any financial gain from releasing this story. My only hope is that these types of bias-based traffic stops can end and that, perhaps, other Black drivers might see how to deescalate a threatening situation.”
Ten days after the incident, Roberts filed a complaint in which he wrote he “felt so harassed I couldn’t even remember where my insurance paper was in my car.”
The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department has since responded with a department official writing that the complaint was “not sustained” or acted upon by the department and the matter was closed. The statement also noted that a supervisor was instructed to “go through refresher training on traffic stop procedures” with Watkins.
Jennine Hovell-Cox, Roberts’ attorney, told the newspaper that she requested the Fort Bend County District Attorney open an investigation into the incident.
“My office directed her to contact the Internal Affairs Division at the Sheriff’s Department,” Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian M. Middleton said in an email to USA TODAY Sports. “If Mr. Roberts files a formal complaint, the matter will be investigated and possibly referred to the Texas Rangers for an independent investigation.”
The dash cam footage shows Watkins informing Roberts he was stopped for speeding: 59 mph in a 35 mph zone and failure to provide insurance. Court records do not show a citation for the incident.
“The citation was never processed by the sheriff's department and sent for filing with the court,” said Hovell-Cox. “We believe that once the dashcam footage was seen by Deputy Watkins' supervisors and realizing who Elandon is, a decision was made to halt everything. Elandon started receiving phone calls from the sheriff's office a few hours after the ‘stop,’ apologizing and telling him that the ticket was being ‘dismissed.’”
Watch footage of the incident below.
Photo: Jaromir Chalabala/EyeEm