Roddy White, a former Atlanta Falcon who is an NFL free agent, used a series of tweets to describe a traffic stop Wednesday that he said had him concerned for his life.
Recalling the incident
White said he questioned the officer about why the officer felt the need to unsnap a restraint on his holster and grab his gun.
The officer purportedly told him it was police procedure, then clarified that it was his preference.
“It’s cops like you that makes this world a very ugly place its a good thing I already had all my information to give him or I could’ve died on a routine traffic stop cause if u stopping me for speeding I don’t see a reason to grab your gun,” White tweeted.
When the officer put his hand on his gun, it made White feel like the cop was nervous and White then became more nervous, White told CNN’s Coy Wire, who was White’s teammate for three years.
Maj. Stephen Fore of DeKalb County Police said a policy manual is posted on the department’s website. It doesn’t include any mentions of hands on weapons during traffic stops.
Holsters are divided into three different levels, with Level 3 being one many departments prefer. It protects the officer from having his or her gun taken during a confrontation with a suspect because it takes three steps to unholster a handgun. That’s the level used by DeKalb County officers.
One expert told CNN that the first thing an officer is looking out for during a traffic stop is his or her safety. A driver should turn off the car, roll down the window, stay inside the car and put their hands on the steering wheel, or at least make it clear that there’s nothing in their hands and they aren’t reaching for anything.
“The officer doesn’t know who you are,” Cedric Alexander, CNN law enforcement analyst and public safety director of DeKalb County, said last year.
White told CNN that he intends to file a report on Thursday. He also needs to get his driver’s license back.
He told Wire that if it is procedure for an officer to have one hand on his gun, then that is something that needs to be looked into.
Following mom’s advice
White was driving a Camaro with tinted windows on Interstate 285, and said he didn’t realize he was speeding due to the busy traffic on the four-lane road. He said he followed advice his mother once gave him to get all his information ready and have the window rolled down when the officer approached.
Reactions to White’s tweets were mixed, but most voiced support for the police officer’s actions. Others said they have experienced the same thing and weren’t upset by an officer putting a hand over a gun.
A man named Chris Wright wrote: “Ima have to disagree with you on this. Unless he had it pointed on you. I’ve been stopped and had a cop unbuckle his strap.”
Another man said White, who is black, was unnecessarily making the issue about race.
“I’m white, and everytime I’ve been pulled over at night, the cop did the exact same thing. Ignorance. Stop feeding the divide,” Michael April said, although it is unclear when White was pulled over.
A woman tweeted her support.
“God bless you and stay strong! Tell your story!” Malina Carrillo wrote.
White, 36, played 11 seasons for the Falcons. In 2010, he led the NFL with 115 receptions and was named to the All-Pro team. He was released by the Falcons in March and at this point, midway through the season, it is unlikely he will sign with another team.