Michael Bennett: Cops drew guns on me for ‘being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time’
Seattle Seahawks star defensive end Michael Bennett has accused police officers of pointing guns at him and using excessive force during an incident in Las Vegas last month.
Bennett posted a statement on his Twitter account Wednesday, saying that he felt “terrified” and “helpless,” and announced that he is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit.
According to Bennett, the incident occurred in the early-morning hours on Aug. 27 after the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas, when police apprehended him after hearing what sounded like gunshots in a crowded area.
Bennett said officers pointed guns at him “for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time” and ordered him to lie down on the ground.
Bennett wrote that one officer, with his gun drawn, warned him that he would “blow my f—— head off” if he moved. Another officer jammed his knee into Bennett’s back and handcuffed him, according to Bennett.
Bennett said he was placed in a police car before officers confirmed his identity, realized he was not a suspect and released him “without any legitimate justification for the Officers’ abusive conduct.”
“They apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player,” he wrote.
Police Officer Jacinto Rivera told The Associated Press that Las Vegas police are checking for video and written reports but can’t immediately verify Bennett’s account.
Bennett said he has retained John Burris, an Oakland-based civil rights attorney, to investigate the incident and determine his legal options.
Burris released a statement Wednesday saying that Bennett “was unarmed, sober and not involved in any altercations or dispute at the time the police officers arrested and threatened to use deadly force against him.”
Bennett, 31, said the incident is an example of the racial inequality that he is protesting by sitting for the national anthem. Bennett sat through the anthem for all four of the Seahawks’ preseason games this summer and has said he will continue doing so.
“I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply, the right thing to do,” Bennett wrote. “This fact is unequivocally, without question why before every game, I sit during the national anthem–because equality doesn’t live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a ‘N—–,’ you will be treated that way.”
Bennett’s brother, Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, posted in an Instagram message to his brother that he is “glad your voice is one of the ones being heard.”
“I’m sad that you have to share this type of experience with the world but at the same time I’m happy that it happened to you and you lived to talk about it because we all know you’re going to talk about it. Lol,” Martellus Bennett wrote. “The conversation is growing and I’m glad your voice is one of the ones being heard. You are as real as they come, well at least how they used to come. I encourage you to Continue telling your story and the stories of those that came before.”
Michael Bennett has been a vocal advocate for former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to publicly protest during the anthem last season.
Kaepernick, who remains unsigned this season, tweeted his support of Bennett on Wednesday.
“This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust,” Kaepernick tweeted. “I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.”
The Seahawks have not commented on the alleged incident. Seahawks center Justin Britt also tweeted his support of Bennett.
— Justin Britt (@JustinBritt68) September 6, 2017
Britt has stood by Bennett’s side with a supportive hand on his shoulder while the defensive end sat on the bench during the anthem before the Seahawks’ last three preseason games. Britt began doing that after Bennett sat alone on the bench during the anthem before the preseason opener.
Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, released a statement Wednesday offering the group’s support to Bennett. Black Lives Matter has joined with Color of Change to start a petition asking the Las Vegas Police Department to release the names of the officers who allegedly assaulted Bennett and video of the incident.
[Source: espn ]