Isaiah Crowell attends funeral at invitation of Dallas police officer

ByPat McManamon ESPN logo
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell attended the funeral Saturday of one of the five Dallas police officers ambushed and killed by a gunman July 7 in the city.

Crowell attended at the invitation of Sgt. Demetrick Pennie of the Dallas police. Pennie is also president of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.

"Although, he was initially afraid and skeptical of the environment that he was entering, he traveled to Dallas overnight and met with me for an extended period of time in an attempt to find some resolve in understanding," Pennie wrote in a long post on the Fallen Officer Facebook page.

Pennie's invitation was intended to open dialogue after Crowell's post on social media that showed a hooded man attacking a police officer. Crowell took the post down almost immediatelyand later apologized with a statement and a Facebook video.

He promised he wanted to be part of the solution in the future. His first step: an offer to donate his first game check to the foundation.

"I reached out to Mr. Crowell and expressed a disinterest in his money," Pennie wrote. "Rather, I told him that I did want an opportunity to educate him about the policing profession and the meaning of police service and sacrifice."

Pennie's LinkedIn page states that he has been a Dallas police officer and head of the Fallen Officer Foundation since 1999. Before that he spent four years as a corporal in the U.S. Army.

"I, like most other police officers, was disgusted by the posting; however, to me Mr. Crowell's posting represented something much more than just an offensive post. It represented a disconnect in understanding that existed between the police and many in the Black community. A misunderstanding that I have personally been subjected to from my own family," Pennie wrote.

Crowell was not available for comment. He is expected to address the media for the first time when the Browns begin training camp July 29.

Pennie and Crowell talked for an extended time before the funeral about shared experiences growing up in the inner city. Crowell explained he was caught up in the "provocative rhetoric that spewed through the media on a daily basis," Pennie wrote, following police killings of two black men -- Philando Castile just outside Minneapolis and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As Crowell expressed remorse, Crowell told Pennie he had received death threats after the post. Crowell fought back tears, and his voice "rattled" as he spoke, Pennie wrote.

On Saturday, Pennie and Crowell spent eight hours together. Crowell met with several high-ranking officials in the state, including Texas police commissioner Rob Kyker. He also met with officers from around the country attending the funeral. Pennie said those officers "expressed their appreciation for him seeking forgiveness for his actions and having the courage to admit that he was wrong and making an attempt to redress the problem."

The post includes several photos of Crowell interacting with police officers.

Crowell told Pennie his visit was "humbling," Pennie wrote. He also said it gave him a different outlook "on the sacrifices that police officers make every day."