Texas sheriff apologized to Patriots LB Elandon Roberts after traffic stop, defended his deputy

Yahoo Sports Contributor
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Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said in a news conference on Friday that he has apologized to New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts for a traffic stop outside his Houston-area home in March that Roberts said he felt was racially motivated.

Nehls, however, still defended his deputy’s actions during the stop — in which the deputy referred to Roberts as a “big, black man.”

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Roberts was pulled over for speeding outside of his house in Richmond, Texas, on March 10 by deputy Adam Watkins, per the Associated Press. The 25-year-old emerged from his car in his driveway with his hands up, though Watkins ordered him back into the car, which Roberts quickly did.

Still, Watkins requested back-up while claiming Roberts was a “big, black man” who wasn’t complying. It reportedly took nine full minutes before the officer even told Roberts why he was being pulled over.

“I haven’t begun the traffic stop. The big black man got out of the car,” Watkins said. “I told him to get back in and he wouldn’t comply. I had to yell at him pretty hard.”

Nehls said on Friday that he spoke with both Roberts and his attorney, and acknowledged that they shouldn’t have taken so long with the traffic stop on March 10, via the Associated Press. He also said that Watkins was wrong to order Roberts’ wife, Tori, back inside her home after she walked outside upon seeing the flashing lights.

“The way he interacted with his wife, I didn’t appreciate the tone,” Nehls said, via the Associated Press.

Nehls, however, did not take issue with how Watkins — who is white and had only been on the job for a few months before the traffic stop — described Roberts during the traffic stop. He did issue Watkins a verbal reprimand.

“I think there have been traffic stops and interactions between white and black that have caused some of the most horrible, civil unrest in this country,” Nehls said, via the Associated Press. “We haven't experienced that in Fort Bend County.”

Nehls said stop was warranted, not a racial issue

The stop, Nehls said, was in fact warranted. Roberts was driving 59 mph in a 35 mph zone, per the report, though the ticket was later changed to a warning.

Nehls also criticized video of the traffic stop obtained by USA Today for the way it was edited, which he claimed presented a “false narrative.” The police department released a nearly-16 minute video of the traffic stop on Friday. The incident, Nehls said, had nothing to do with race.

“What happened is (USA Today reporter) Mr. Perez and some of you in this room are trying to make this a racial issue, and it is not,” Nehls said, via Boston.com.

Nehls also said he has “no issue” if Roberts files a complaint with the district attorney over the incident, and called the two-time NFL champion a “very professional young man.”

“I apologize for the way you were treated and maybe the way you felt at that point in time,” Nehls said to Roberts in the news conference, via Boston.com. “I mean I don’t know truly how he felt, but he’s thinking, ‘I’m sitting in this car for eight minutes and nothing is happening.’ He doesn’t at that point in time even know what the deputy is doing in his car. But the deputy then is calling for backup.

“So that’s a long eight minutes and I’m sure he felt a little uncomfortable. And I’ve apologized to him for that.”

A Texas sheriff apologized to New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts on Friday after a traffic stop in March that Roberts claimed was racially motivated. The sheriff, however, still defended his deputy's actions. (Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
A Texas sheriff apologized to New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts on Friday after a traffic stop in March that Roberts claimed was racially motivated. The sheriff, however, still defended his deputy's actions. (Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

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