Former Longhorn Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams stopped by Tyler police

Former football star, Ricky Williams had a run in with Tyler police last week.


The whole incident was captured on police dash and body cameras and, while Williams was never arrested, some say officers went too far.

Ricky Williams was the second Longhorn to win a Heisman trophy, he went on to play in the NFL and made millions of dollars during his career, but none of that mattered when police got a call from a homeowner in Tyler.

“There was a man back there, I'd say between 25-30 years old, hanging around, hiding, walking back there pretending to look for my dog,”  the homeowner said on the 9-1-1 call.

Williams was visiting Tyler to attend the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award banquet January 11 when he said he decided to go for a walk. 

Williams' hotel, the Courtyard Marriott, was just on the other side of the homeowner’s fence.

“It just looked suspicious when I heard my dog barking and I looked and he ducked down behind my shed,” the caller told dispatchers. 

Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder said that phone call started a chain of events that ended with a violation of Ricky’s rights.

“The language itself creates the situation, not just the police officers, the phone call was a problem,” Linder said. 

The caller describes Williams as being black and said, “He was in all black.”
The Tyler Police Department sent four officers to check out the situation. Thirty minutes after the call, they spotted Ricky walking nearby.

In a dash camera video you can hear an officer ask Williams, “You been back here lately?”
Ricky responds, “No, I'm staying in this hotel.”

Then the officer said, “You have any weapons on you?”

When Williams said no the officer tells him, “Okay, turn around place your hands behind your back. I'm just going to make sure you don't have any weapons on you.” 

Without asking for consent, an officer then begins to pat Ricky down, but they never handcuff him.

“That's not acceptable in any place in this country, but it happens every day with black people and that's why there are so many instances in this country of folks getting hurt, because of these illegal searches like that. It should never be occurring,” said Linder. 

After officers realized who they were talking to, Ricky explained why he may have seemed nervous during the stop.

In the video Williams said, “You know how many times I've been messed with for being black? …I'm not saying that's what you're doing; I'm just saying I'm sensitive to it.”

Linder says Williams couldn't have handled the situation any better.

“Know your rights. Be calm, be cool, fight it another day, don't fight it on the streets, but this is a classic example of an incorrect stop and illegal detention. That's what this was. He was illegally detained and that needs to be very, very clear. This is unnecessary,” said Linder. 


A statement sent to us by the Tyler Police Department reads:

"On Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tyler Police received a call from a resident at 8239 Yale in reference to a suspicious person behind his fence line in his backyard.

The caller stated that his dog was barking in his back yard as if someone was back there.  The caller then observed a B/M, wearing all black crouched down behind his wire fence in a green belt area that backed up to the Courtyard Marriott.  The home owner made verbal contact with the subject who asked the owner if he was looking for his dog.  The subject then continued a short distance to the north climbing over the fence into the Colonial Hills Baptist Church rear parking lot.  After the subject left the area the homeowner called the police.

While checking the area police contacted a construction worker with Saltgrass Steak House and were advised that a person matching the description had been seen in the area.  The worker stated that the person picked up a tape measure and was going to walk off with it.  He told the subject that the property did not belong to him and it was returned.

Around 4:00 p.m. officers located a subject matching the description provided by the caller just north of the Courtyard Marriott.  Officers conducted a short investigation in reference to the suspicious person call.  During the course of the interview, officers identified the individual as Ricky Williams.  After obtaining all of the necessary information officers completed the contact with Mr. Williams.

No further action was taken by officers."