New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts is sharing his story, months after the athlete says he was harassed by police in the driveway of his Texas home during a traffic stop.
USA TODAY obtained dashcam video of the March 10 incident, in which Roberts was pulled over in the Houston suburb of Richmond for driving 59 mph in a 35-mph zone. The video shows the 25-year-old Texas native pulling into the driveway of his home and exiting the sports car with his hands in the air.
“Get back in the car” the Fort Bend County Sheriff deputy orders Roberts.
“This is my house,” Roberts says, his hands up in the air.
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When the deputy, Adam Watkins, yells at him to get back in the car, the two-time Super Bowl champion does so.
In the dashcam video Watkins can be heard calling for backup, saying, “the big black man got out of the car. I told him to get back in. He wouldn’t comply. I had to yell at him pretty hard.”
Roberts reportedly filed a complaint 10 days after the stop, saying he “felt so harassed I couldn’t even remember where my insurance paper was in my car.”
According to USA TODAY, the internal affairs division of the sheriff’s office wrote in a response that the complaint was not acted on by the department, the matter was closed, and that a supervisor had been instructed to have the deputy involved “go through refresher training” for traffic stops.
“Unfortunately, these types of things are happening all too often to African Americans,” Roberts said in a statement to USA TODAY. “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.
“I have no interest in any financial gain from releasing this story,” the statement continued. “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.”
Roberts’s attorney, Jennine Hovell-Cox, told USA TODAY that the initial citations for speedings and failure to provide insurance were never processed by the sheriff’s department.
“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,” she said.
Hovell-Cox has requested the Fort Bend County District Attorney open an investigation into the incident, according to the newspaper. A spokeswoman for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.