Former NFL running back and current “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant Ricky Williams says he was racially-profiled by police in Texas while going for a walk near his hotel.
According to the New York Daily News, Williams was in Tyler, Tex., to attend the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award ceremony on Jan. 11. While staying at a Courtyard Marriott, he decided to go for a walk to kill time before the ceremony that evening.
Meanwhile, cops in the area had just received a call about a man hopping fences and loitering in a nearby backyard. They spotted Williams as he was taking his stroll.
In dashcam footage released Friday by police, the 39-year-old Heisman Trophy winner is seen being asked to stand in front of a police car before being searched for weapons.
One of the officers says that he “looked like Ricky Williams.” Williams can be heard responding, “I am Ricky Williams.”
The officers tell him about receiving a call about a man hopping fences and loitering nearby. After Williams denied being the suspect, things got heated.
“Here’s the thing. I know more than what you think I know,” one cop tells Williams. “I know that you were in the back of somebody’s yard back there. Is there a reason you were in somebody’s yard?”
At one point, Williams asks the cops, “Do you know how many times I’ve been messed with by cops just for being black?”
The police officers eventually allow Williams to leave without being charged, but not before accusing him of stealing a tape measure.
Tyler police department spokesperson Don Martin defended the cops’ actions, telling the Tyler Morning Telegraph: “We feel that our officers did a professional job and did the proper job. Bottom line, if this person had not gone back into an area and acted in a suspicious manner the way he did then this never would have happened.”
Williams spoke about the incident on Wednesday on “The Dudley and Bob Show” on Austin radio station KLBJ 93.7:
“They had me put my hands behind my back. They didn’t cuff me. They had me take everything out of my pockets and they started questioning me,” he said. “I started to get upset. They told me to calm down. I said, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to be a black man, and it’s not the first time.’”
Following Williams’ radio interview, Martin contacted him directly.
“We visited about the incident, and we came to the positive conclusion that he’s very welcome in Tyler, Texas,” Martin said. “And I hope I can spend some time with him when he does return. I even invited him to stay with my family when he’s here; we have a guest room he’s welcome to.”
Williams did not indicate if he would pursue legal action against the department.