Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts says he was harassed at home by police

New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts got out of his Porsche with his hands up. 

“This is my house,”  Roberts told the deputy from the Fort Bend County (Texas) Sheriff’s Department. 

Deputy Adam Watkins barked at Roberts to get back into his car and Roberts did so quickly, not that it halted the tension as Watkins called for backup over the “big black man” who “wouldn’t comply,” according to the dashcam footage obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

Elandon Roberts has started 30 games at linebacker for the New England Patriots over the past three seasons. (Photo: Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports)

Roberts was stopped in the Houston suburb of Richmond on March 10 for a basic speeding infraction, but he wasn't told of the charge until nine minutes after the stop was initiated.

“Unfortunately, these types of things are happening all too often to African Americans,” Roberts said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “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. 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.” 

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Roberts filed a complaint 10 days after the incident in which he wrote he “felt so harassed I couldn’t even remember where my insurance paper was in my car.”

In a response from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department’s internal affairs division dated May 20, a department official wrote the complaint was “not sustained,” or not acted upon by the department, and the matter was closed. The document did note that a supervisor was instructed to “go through refresher training on traffic stop procedures” with Watkins. 

Roberts’ attorney, Jennine Hovell-Cox, told USA TODAY Sports she has requested that the Fort Bend County District Attorney open an investigation into the incident. 

“My office directed her to contact the Internal Affairs Division at the Sheriff’s Department,” Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian M. Middleton said in an email to USA TODAY Sports. “If Mr. Roberts files a formal complaint, the matter will be investigated and possibly referred to the Texas Rangers for an independent investigation.”

Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department did not provide comment on the incident when reached by USA TODAY Sports Thursday. 

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“As a son, husband, and father, I share the concerns and fear of many,” said Kennard McGuire, Roberts' agent. “We shouldn't have to move in fear of those with the privilege and honor to protect and serve.”

Roberts, 25, didn’t argue. The two-time Super Bowl champ and native Texan followed instructions and, at one point, even pleaded with Watkins.

"Can we talk like men?" Roberts said during the stop.

However, Watkins delivered a different version of events on the radio. 

"I haven't even begun the traffic stop,” Watkins said. “The big black man who was driving got out of the car. I told him to get back in. He wouldn't comply. I had to yell at him pretty hard to comply.”

Roberts’ wife, Tori Roberts, came out of the house but was told by Watkins to return.

“This is our house,” Tori Roberts responded.

“If you don’t get back in the house, you will be arrested,” Watkins said.  “Go back in the house for your safety.” 

“For my safety or my husband’s (safety)?” Tori Roberts responded. 

The dashcam footage showed Watkins telling Roberts he was stopped for speeding: 59 mph in a 35 mph zone and failure to provide insurance. A search of court records didn’t show the citation was entered. Middleton said that his office “has not received any charges from the sheriff’s department regarding the incident.”

“The citation was never processed by the sheriff's department and sent for filing with the court,” said Hovell-Cox, Robert’s attorney. “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. Elandon started receiving phone calls from the sheriff's office a few hours after the ‘stop,’ apologizing and telling him that the ticket was being ‘dismissed.’ ”

Contributing: Jarrett Bell

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