On April 1, Robert Powell resigned from the Dallas police force. Powell is the rookie police officer who stopped NFL player Ryan Moats for rolling through a red light. Moats explained that he was rushing his wife to her dying mother’s side, but the squad-car video captured Powell berating Moats and holding him for 13 minutes—the last 13 minutes of Moats’s mother-in-law’s life. Powell was pilloried by the press and even by his own department. The apology he offered seemed insincere, and his remorse strategic. Under the weight of the nation’s judgment, the 25-year-old rookie resigned.
There is no question that what Powell did was wrong. He abused his authority and violated public trust. Through insensitivity he brought shame to his department, his city, his family and himself. But should this have been a career-ending mistake? Was there no room for rehabilitation, no opportunity for redemption?