Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett—who is known off the field for his support of racial justice causes—accused two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officers of physically and verbally abusing him in a Twitter statement today (September 6):
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
Bennett’s account alleges that the officers assaulted him soon after he heard gunfire while leaving the high-profile fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. He and others in the vicinity ran away from the sound before two LVMPD officers approached him. One ordered him on the ground before pointing a gun to his head and threatening to "blow [his] fucking head off" if he moved. Another officer reportedly shoved his knee into Bennett’s back, constricting his breathing, before they both tightened his handcuffs enough to make Bennett’s fingers go numb. The officers later confirmed his identity and released him, but not before putting the Super Bowl-winning player in their squad car.
"All I could think of was, ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am Black and my skin color is somehow a threat," wrote Bennett, who ended his statement by saying that he retained attorney John Burris for possible future legal action. Burris’ clients include the families of Oscar Grant and Marlene Pinnock.
"We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head," Burris told The New York Times/The Associated Press. "He was just in the crowd. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He wasn’t in a fight. He wasn’t resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd."
Anonymous sources provided entertainment news outlet TMZ with the above video, which the outlet says shows LVMPD officers arresting Bennett while he says, "I wasn’t doing nothing! You ain’t asked me a question! I was here with my friends, they told us to get out, everybody ran!" Neither Bennett nor his lawyer have confirmed if the man in the video is him.
Black Lives Matter Network co-founder Patrisse Cullors created a petition via advocacy organization Color of Change‘s OrganizeFor platform, demanding the LVMPD release the involved officers’ names. It had nearly 1,800 signatures at press time.
LVMPD spokesperson Jacinto Rivera told The New York Times/The Associated Press that the department is looking for body camera and street and casino surveillance footage that captured the incident. The LVMPD’s only other comment on the incident, as of press time, is this tweet promising to reveal more details later today:
Reference a statement made by Michael Bennett, this case is under investigation. Reserve judgment. We will address this publicly today.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) September 6, 2017