Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has accused Las Vegas Police of racism and excessive force during his detention after a report of a shooting in a casino.
The NFL star was in Las Vegas on Aug. 27 to see the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor boxing match. After the fight, Bennett stopped in at the Cromwell casino.
Bennett had the bad luck to choose a casino where guests heard and reported a sound similar to gunshots. Police were called at 1:30 a.m. to respond to an assault and battery with a firearm, and with an active shooter in the casino.
Las Vegas Police charged into the casino in tight formation, trying to simultaneously search for a possible gunman while also safely evacuating the many patrons. The police circled the entire gambling floor once and were beginning a second circuit when they saw a man hiding behind a gaming machine.
When he saw the police, the man fled out a rear exit, leaping over a wall into traffic on Flamingo Boulevard.
Two police officers caught up with this person, who turned out to be Michael Bennett, and ordered him to get on the ground. They then handcuffed him and put him in a patrol car while they investigated him.
Bennett, in a lengthy Twitter post from September, claims that he was singled out because he was black, and that the arresting officers used excessive force. He claims that his life was placed in jeopardy “simply for being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
The arresting officer did not have his body camera activated. However, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has 126 different video feeds from other officers and other sources to analyze. Casino security cameras probably caught some of the incident, and police are asking for anyone who caught cellphone footage to submit it to the police.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill responded to Bennett’s tweet at a press conference on Sept. 6. After explaining the incident, he showed a lengthy video from another officer’s body cam.
McMahill said that the incident was being investigated by Internal Affairs, but from what he had seen, there was no racism involved. Police looking for an armed attacker would naturally expect someone who was trying to hide, who fled once he saw police, to be a possible suspect. It made sense this person would be detained and investigated.
After Bennett was identified, he was released. McMahill said that at the time Bennett said he understood the officers’ actions and was alright with what had happened.
“I can tell you as I stand here today, I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident,” McMahill asserted.
McMahill pointed out that officers helped patrons of all races exit the casino safely, and that the two officers who detained Bennett are Hispanic.
McMahill assured the public that if the investigation showed that any policies or training was violated, those officers will be held accountable.