Seahawks DL Michael Bennett posted to his Twitter account Wednesday news that Las Vegas police used excessive force against him after he attended the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Aug. 26. Bennett, who claimed that he was held at gunpoint and assaulted, said in a separate press release that he has hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris and is considering filing a federal lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Bennett’s statement said in part:
“After the fight while heading back to my hotel several hundred people heard what sounded like gunshots. Like many of the people in the area I ran away from the sound, looking for safety. Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“A police officer ordered me to get on the ground. As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands not to move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would ‘blow my f—— head off.’ Terrified and confused by what was taking place, a second officer came over and forcefully jammed his knee into my back making it difficult for me to breathe. Then they cinched the handcuffs on my wrists so tight that my fingers went numb.
“The officers’ excessive use of force was unbearable. I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed. 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.'”
Bennett explained that he was eventually placed in the back of a police car “for what seemed like an eternity” while police attempted to verify Bennett’s identity.
“They apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player. After confirming my identity I was ultimately released without any legitimate justification for the officers’ abusive conduct.”
Bennett said that he is asking the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to release the names of the police officers involved as well as body camera videos of the incident.
Burris released a statement 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.”
The 31-year-old Bennett 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 and has said he will continue doing so during the regular season that begins Sunday.
Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick offered his support for Bennett via Twitter, writing, “This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust. I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.”
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department issued a statement Wednesday saying the Bennett matter is “under investigation” and advised to “reserve judgment.” A Twitter post said a statement would be forthcoming.