Justice

This Video of an NFL Star's Interaction With Police Reveals a Problem

January 20th 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Police in Texas stopped a retired black NFL star on the street earlier this month, and the dashcam video from the incident reveals an aspect of police accountability that's often overlooked. 

Ricky Williams stopped by police.

Ricky Williams, a Heisman trophy winner and 12-year veteran of the NFL, was walking down the street in Tyler, Texas, when police stopped and searched him in the parking lot of his hotel, citing a call about a suspicious person. Williams was visiting Tyler for a banquet, according to local station KLTV. 

The video from Jan. 11 shows Williams calmly explaining where he was walking, while police repeatedly ask him if he jumped a fence in someone's yard. 

Nearly five minutes into the clip released by police, Williams starts to become upset and an off-camera officer says he's acting "defensive." Williams responds that being stopped by police for no reason is something that happens all the time. 

"Do you know how many times I've been stopped by the cops for being black?" Williams says in the video. 

The officers respond that race has nothing to do with this situation, but Williams implies the racial issue is about more than this one situation. 

"I'm just saying you haven't lived my life," Williams says. "You don't know what I've been through."

A statement from the Tyler police to KLTV said Williams was not arrested.

"Around 4 p.m. officers located a subject matching the description provided by the caller just north of the Courtyard Marriott. Officers conducted a short investigation in reference to the suspicious person call. During the course of the interview, officers identified the individual as Ricky Williams. After obtaining all of the necessary information officers completed the contact with Mr. Williams. 
No further action was taken by officers." 

Williams' incident with police ended without arrest and without violence, but it reveals something important about police interactions. 

Police handcuffs.

Police shootings get most of the attention, but black people are also disproportionately searched even though they are less likely to have guns or drugs on them than white people, according to The Washington Post. 

"You might object (or not) to the idea of racial profiling — officers taking race into account when determining whether to stop and scrutinize someone," wrote the Post's Jeff Guo in 2015. "But few would endorse racial profiling that clearly doesn't work."

A policewoman.

In 2013, the New York Police Department's use of "stop-and-frisk," a practice where NYPD officers would stop a pedestrian and search them for illegal material, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court because of racial profiling. A 2012 report found that black and latino residents made up 90 percent of stops from 2002 to 2011. 

You can watch the dashcam video on KLTV's website

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