Disputing Michael Bennett’s account of his detainment, Las Vegas police said Thursday that, after reviewing more than 800 videos, they treated him “appropriately and professionally” when he ran from an after-hours club as officers searched for an active shooter that they later determined didn’t exist.
At an afternoon news conference, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said his officers did nothing wrong when Bennett, after attending the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Aug. 26, was held for 10 minutes before being released with no charges filed.
But none of the video was from the officer who detained Bennett, because his body camera was turned off. Nor did police identify the three officers who encountered him, one of whom can be seen on video holding a gun to the head of Bennett, who was prone on Las Vegas Boulevard and handcuffed.
Bennett claimed the officer threatened him: “I’ll blow your fucking head off.”
The sheriff said, “From the evidence we have at this point, we don’t know (the officer) said that.”
Bennett posted to his Twitter account Sept. 6 his version of events that included his contention that he was racially profiled by police and that his treatment was “unbearable.”
Lombardo emphasized that Bennett was engaged in no criminal activity.
“Mr. Bennett has a valid perspective as a person who experienced a reasonable-suspicion stop for a felony crime,” Lombardo said. “Those who experience such a stop, especially when they have not committed a crime, are not likely to feel good about it.”
Lombardo used a stop-motion narrative of casino surveillance video showing Bennett appear to dart behind a row of slot machines, and then body camera video from a sergeant joining the chase when officers noticed him running. Video of the Lombardo press conference can be seen here.
Lombardo said that the reports of gunfire were mistaken, and that the noise came from heavy velvet-rope stanchions that were knocked to a tile floor after an unrelated fight between patrons broke out near where Bennett entered the club.
Bennett’s attorney, John Burris of Oakland, said he wants to review videos more closely. But he said he believed the clips shown verified Bennett’s accounts.
“He was not acting improperly,” Burris told The Associated Press. “He was not acting suspicious. He was not involved in any criminal activity.
“There’s nothing to go on, no description, other than you see this big black man running. He was running like everyone else, trying to get away.”
Burris said the officer’s gun was near Bennett’s while he was being handcuffed, and he said he heard profanity in audio recordings captured on body-camera video. Burris said he heard no reference to race.
Bennett said he was considering legal action for a violation of his civil rights, but said Wednesday there were no developments to disclose.