New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Dashcam video footage obtained by USA Today reveals a March 10 incident involving Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts outside his Houston-area home. Roberts is accusing the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department in Texas of harassment based on the encounter seen in the video, which you can watch above.

According to Deputy Adam Watkins in the video, he originally pulled over Roberts for driving 59 mph in a 35-mph zone. Roberts apparently had trouble finding his insurance during the stop, which appeared to grow tense after the Patriots linebacker arrived at his house and the officer ordered him to get back in his car.

“The big black man who was driving got out of the car. I told him to get back in,” Watkins informs authorities on his radio. “He wouldn’t comply. I had to yell at him pretty hard to comply.”

Roberts’ attorney Jennine Hovell-Cox requested an investigation into the incident from the office of Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian M. Middleton, who told USA Today that Hovell-Cox was directed to Internal Affairs at the sheriff’s department. A formal complaint from Roberts himself would “be investigated and possibly referred to the Texas Rangers for an independent investigation,” he said.

During the traffic stop, Roberts appeared to be perturbed with Watkins’ behavior and confrontational nature but never escalated the situation. The entire encounter happened right outside Roberts’ house in suburban Houston.

The Patriots linebacker grew up 90 miles away in Port Arthur and played three seasons at the University of Houston. When the incident took place, he was barely a month removed from winning his second Super Bowl championship in three seasons with New England.

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrates with outside linebacker Elandon Roberts (52) after beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrates with outside linebacker Elandon Roberts (52) after beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Roberts told USA Today that he’s not seeking any financial gain from the incident but simply wanted to shed light on what he felt was unfair treatment by the deputy.

“Unfortunately, these types of things are happening all too often to African Americans,” Roberts said. “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.”

Fortunately, the incident never escalated beyond what happened. It’s certainly not a great look for deputy Watkins to refer to Roberts as a “big black man” over the radio and seemingly treat a simple speeding violation like something more dangerous. And he confronted Roberts right outside his own home, where he ordered Roberts’ wife to get back into the house for her own safety.

We’ll see if anything comes of it as far as internal investigations. But it’s at the very least an embarrassing incident for the sheriff’s department and an unnecessary scare for Roberts.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.