Exclusive: NFL Player Ryan Moats and Wife Talk to 'GMA'

EXCLUSIVE: NFL player, wife forgive cop who kept them from mom's deathbed.

March 29, 2009, 6:19 PM

March 30, 2009 — -- NFL running back Ryan Moats and his wife said today they are willing to accept the apology of a Dallas police officer who stopped them at gunpoint as they hurried to the bedside of her dying mother even though Moats said he feared for his wife's life.

"I really didn't realize what was going on at the time. Once I got out I realized it was pretty serious," Ryan Moats told "Good Morning America" during the couple's first nationally televised interivew since the confrontation earlier this month. "I was afraid for her because, you know, he was pointing the gun at her."

The stand-off between Moats and Dallas Police Officer Robert Powell, 25, escalated after the Moats family tried to explain that they had driven through a red light because Tamishia Moats' mother had only minutes left.

"When you're in a situation like that you don't think how serious it is," Tamishia Moats told "GMA." "He could have shot me. He was pointing the gun at me and saying don't take another step."

"When I got out, I thought, if I explain it to him, maybe he will understand," Ryan Moats said. "I was thinking maybe he could walk up with me and let me say my good byes. I didn't have a problem with paying the ticket."

Tamishia Moats was by her mother's side during her last few moments before 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth died of breast cancer.

But Ryan Moats and Collinsworth's father, Earl Johnson, weren't so lucky. They were stuck in the hospital parking lot while Moats was detained by Powell for a traffic violation even as a nurse and another police officer pleaded for Moats to be allowed inside with his family.

In his written statement, Powell admitted he showed "poor judgment and insensitivity to Mr. Moats and his family by my words and actions. With great remorse I accept my responsibility for adding to their grief in an already difficult time."

Though Powell had said he'd tried to contact the Moats directly, Tamishia Moats said they have not received a personal phone call from him.

"It would be comforting if we heard an apology directly from him," she said. "But we definitely would accept his apology because, you know, he's a human being."

Ryan Moats said he tried to get his family to the hospital as quickly and as safely as he could, using his hazard lights and trying to make drivers around him aware that he had an emergency.

"I didn't run through a red light," he said. "I stopped at the red light and I asked for permission of the other drivers to let me go. They saw me with my hazards on so they let me go."

The heated exchange between Ryan Moats and Powell, was captured by Powell's dashboard camera, and obtained by ABC News' Dallas affiliate WFAA.

Police Praise Moats' Patience

Moats, who plays for the Houston Texans, was pulled over in the early morning hours of March 18 after he reportedly ran a red light while rushing to Baylor Regional Medical Center to get to his mother-in-law's death bed.

As Tamishia Moats tried to leave the car, Powell yelled at her, "Get in there, let me see your hands. Get in there. Put your hands on the car."

Tamishia Moats tried to explain that her mother was dying. When Powell did not reply, Tamishia Moats and her aunt frantically rushed into the hospital.

Meanwhile, Powell, with his gun in his hand, refused to let the 26-year-old football player go inside. Moats could not provide proof of insurance.

As Moats pleaded for understanding, Powell shouted, "Shut your mouth. Shut your mouth. You can either settle down and cooperate or I can take you to jail for running a red light."

Powell continued, "I can screw you over. I'd rather not do that. You obviously will dictate everything that happens, and right now your attitude sucks."

As the parking lot drama continued, a nurse from the hospital, and another police officer come out to the parking lot to explain that Collingsworth was dying.

After 13 minutes, Powell wrote Moats a ticket and let him enter the hospital, but by then it was too late.

The incident has sparked outrage and astonishment. As a result of the incident, the Dallas Police Department has issued an official apology and placed Powell on administrative leave.

Tamishia Moats said her mother, a teacher, died after a second bout with breast cancer, first diagnosed in 2006.

"The last time it came back really fast," she said and emphasized the importance of early detection. "It can spread really quickly and that's what happened to her."

Last week, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said that Moats and his family "exercised extraordinary patience, restraint, dealing with the behavior of our officer ... At no time did Mr. Moats identify himself as an NFL football player or expect any kind of special consideration. He handled himself very, very well."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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