Former Seahawks star DE Michael Bennett is charged with doing a foolish thing in his home town of Houston: Injuring an elderly paraplegic woman who was part of the security team on the field in the moments after the Patriots — including his brother, Martellus — beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl at NRG Stadium in February 2017.
A Harris County grand jury returned a felony indictment against Bennett, who played for five years with the Seahawks before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Sources with the Seahawks and Eagles who weren’t identified told several media outlets that neither club was aware of the episode before the news broke Friday in Houston.
Friday evening the Philadelphia Inquirer was told by Bennett’s new attorney, Rusty Hardin, that Bennett was out of the continental U.S. and would surrender when he returns. Bennett has a home in Hawaii.
Since he had not met Bennett, Hardin said he would refrain from speaking on his behalf. The Eagles told the Inquirer that they were “in the process of gathering more information” and wouldn’t have further comment because it was an “ongoing legal matter.”
The district attorney’s office said Bennett was attempting to get on the field to celebrate with his brother, but was told to use a different entrance. Instead, he pushed past the woman, 66, and other security team members. Police said she was driving an 800-pound motorized cart, and when Bennett pushed her, the cart didn’t move but the force of the shove sprained her shoulder.
The charge of injury to a person over 65 carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A warrant for his arrest has been issued, and prosecutors were working with his attorney regarding his surrender.
In a press conference, police chief Art Acevedo chastised Bennett’s actions, in which he allegedly forced open closed doors to the field and shoved two other guards in addition the woman in question, and his behavior, which included allegedly shouting, “You all must not know who I am. I could own this motherfucker. I’m going on the field whether you like it or not.”
Said Acevedo: “Mr. Bennett may think that because he’s an NFL player, and because time passed because we have to prioritize our cases, he may have thought, number one, rules don’t apply to him and, number two, he doesn’t respect a dignity of a 66-year-old paraplegic woman trying to make a living.
“It’s very offensive to me that a man who’s supposed to be an an example, a professional athlete, would think it’s OK to treat people like this . . . I don’t know about you, but when you put your hands on a 66-year-old lady, that’s morally bankrupt.”
Houston police posted on Twitter its press conference:
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) March 23, 2018
Bennett won Seattle’s Sports Star of the Year award in 2016 and was the Seahawks’ Man of the Year in 2017 for his work in the community. He was also among the player leaders who protested social injustice by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem.
In August, he was detained at gunpoint by Las Vegas police who were investigating a report of shots fired in a casino. Bennett was released after 10 minutes without charges, but later claimed he was racially profiled, a charge strongly denied by police.