Michael Bennett to Turn Himself in on Texas Charges Stemming from Super Bowl

By Sameer Rao Mar 26, 2018

An attorney for Super Bowl-winning National Football League (NFL) player Michael Bennett told USA Today on Friday (March 23) that his client will surrender to the Houston Police Department (HPD) today (March 26). The news came after a grand jury charged the athlete, one of the NFL’s most notable spokespeople for various racial justice causes, with felony injury of an elderly individual

The Office of the District Attorney of Harris County, Texas, announced on Friday that a grand jury indicted Bennett in connection with an incident at Super Bowl LI in Houston—where Bennett grew up—last year. Per the office, Bennett allegedly shoved past security personnel at NRG Stadium to reach his brother Martellus Bennett whose New England Patriots had just won the game. The security team included a 66-year-old woman with paraplegia, whom the district attorney said Bennett injured.

"The charge, injury to the elderly, includes intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older," the statement reads. "It carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine."

At a press conference linestreamed by local NBC affiliate KHOU 11 on Friday, HPD chief Art Acevedo called Bennett’s suspected behavior "morally bankrupt" and "pathetic." He also said that the county took over a year to prosecute Bennett because other investigations took priority:

Bennett’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told USA Today that Bennett was out of the country when the HPD issued the arrest warrant on Friday. He also said he was "concerned about the rhetoric" that Acevedo used in describing Bennett. 

"My initial reaction is that everyone needs to calm down a little bit," Hardin said. "He’s a professional football player who is very respected for his work on social issues. I’m going to take my time to find out what occurred."

The newly minted Philadelphia Eagles player has used his platform to speak out against police violence, including his own alleged treatment by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers. Bennett has not yet publicly commented on the charge, but his supporters took to social media to criticize it and accuse the HPD of trying to suppress his activism. Sports journalist Dave Zirin—with whom Bennett co-wrote the upcoming book, "Things That Make White People Uncomfortable"—tweeted the following:

Haymarket Books, which will publish Bennett’s book on April 3, also issued a statement in solidarity with the activist, which is reprinted in full below:

Michael Bennett is being targeted for being a Black man who speaks out boldly against racism and police brutality.

The latest charges against Michael are clearly an effort by his political opponents—once again—to silence him. We will not let them succeed.

Our country has a long history of such attacks against those who work for justice, from Martin Luther King Jr., to Muhammad Ali, to Angela Davis, among so many others.

We have also seen how athletes have been targeted over the past year, from the “blackballing” of Colin Kaepernick to the young people who have been kicked off of their teams for daring to protest during the anthem.

We are confident that the truth of the incident at the 2017 Super Bowl, 14 months ago, will reveal that the charges against Michael—and the timing of this indictment and public attack on him—are politically motivated.

We stand in solidarity with Michael. We stand strongly behind his new book, which we are extremely proud to publish, and we applaud him for his ongoing work in solidarity with all of those who are challenging the voices of exclusion, intolerance and racism.