Bennett accused Las Vegas police of holding him at gunpoint after the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight last month.
Las Vegas police officers “acted appropriately and professionally” in detaining Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett as they searched a casino for an active shooter on Aug. 27, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said during a news conference Friday in which new police body-camera video of the incident was made public.
What we know about Michael Bennett's incident with Las Vegas police:
- Michael Bennett alleges LVMPD held him at gunpoint after Mayweather-McGregor fight
- Las Vegas police union pens letter to NFL, asking for investigation into Bennett for "false and defamatory" claims
- Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA say they won't bother
- Bennett's lawyer calls for independent investigation into Las Vegas police
Our columnists' takes:Matt Calkins | Lots of unanswered questions for Las Vegas police after Michael Bennett incident
“They did what they were trained to do,” Lombardo said, adding that “the incident was not about race” and saying officers had reasonable suspicion to detain Bennett during the chaotic moments after a shooting had been reported and people fled Drai’s Nightclub at The Cromwell Hotel & Casino. No shooting was found to have occurred and Bennett was released after about 10 minutes, seven of which Lombardo said were spent with Bennett in a police car.
However, Bennett’s Oakland-based lawyer, John Burris, told the Seattle Times in a phone interview Friday afternoon that the video did not reveal anything to contradict Bennett’s assertion that he was the victim of racial profiling and excessive force.
Burris has said Bennett will file a federal civil-rights lawsuit and he said Friday “nothing happened today to dissuade us from that.”
Burris said his office expects to see video from the incident in the next week or two and that “then we will decide our next course of action.” He said the video released Friday had “obviously been edited heavily.”
Bennett, who was in Las Vegas for the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight, was held for questioning for roughly 10 minutes early on the morning of Aug. 27 after police detained him as they searched for suspects after responding to a report of gunshots.
“It was a traumatic experience for me and my family,” Bennett said after he revealed the incident on social media earlier this month. “It sucks that the country we are living in now sometimes you get profiled for the color of your skin.”
Bennett initially fled the scene and was stopped outside The Cromwell Casino, where earlier video showed an officer detaining him on the street. Bennett later posted a message on Twitter accusing Las Vegas police of holding him at gunpoint because he was a black man.
However, Lombardo on Friday said video evidence backs up that the officers acted within police guidelines. The video released Friday shows the moments when Bennett was handcuffed and placed into a police vehicle but do not show the moment when Bennett was taken down. Bennett is shown insisting he did nothing wrong and identifying himself and video also shows an officer looking up Bennett on his phone.
Lombardo noted that Bennett did nothing wrong and said “I want to say that I understand that being detained for a suspected felony is not a pleasant experience. But having said that, the officers that responded that night were heroic.”
He said officers were in the right to detain Bennett because he ran after police had commanded people to get down.
The conclusions came from an internal investigation launched by Las Vegas police after the incident, Lombardo said, adding that the department reviewed 861 videos, including body camera footage from other officers, and determined that 193 videos were relevant to the investigation, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Lombardo described the investigation as “basically” finished.
The officer who detained Bennett was wearing a body camera but did not turn it on before pursuing and detaining Bennett. Lombardo said the officer who detained Bennett should have turned on his body camera but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported it is unclear if the officer will be disciplined.
Bennett wrote he was singled out for “simply being a black man’’ and ordered to the ground. He wrote that one officer held a gun to his head and told him he would “blow my (expletive) head off.” Another officer, Bennett wrote, jammed his knee into Bennett’s back so hard “it was difficult for me to breathe.” However, the moments when Bennett was initially detained were not included in the video released Friday.
Burris had previously called for an independent review “given the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its union’s prejudgment of both Mr. Bennett and Mr. Bennett’s treatment at the hands of LVMPD police.”
In comments to the Times Friday, Burris said the video “supports Mr. Bennett’s statements that he was acting consistent with everyone else who thought there were gun shots. He was running away, he was purposeful in his movement, he had not committed any crimes. There was no basis to stop him. There was no description of anyone as a suspect before Michael was stopped so essentially an officer sees a tall, black guy running and he decides that was the suspect. That’s not enough in our point of view.”
Bennett was not available for comment following Seattle’s practice Friday. During his regular weekly meeting with the media on Thursday Bennett said he had not heard anything new from Las Vegas police regarding the incident.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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