Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett posted a letter on Twitter Wednesday, alleging that Las Vegas police officers used "excessive force" on him and held a gun near his head as he lay on the ground. He says he has retained a lawyer and may file a lawsuit.
It happened the night of August 26 following the Floyd Mayweather - Connor McGregor fight.
Bennett says in the letter that as he left the fight to go back to his hotel, there was a sound of gunshots in the area. Bennett says he ran away from the sound, but then was "singled out" by Las Vegas police officers. He says he did nothing wrong other than being a "black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."
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Bennett says he was ordered to the ground and that he complied with the officers' orders, but says that a gun was placed near his head and was warned not to move or the officer would "blow my (expletive) head off." Bennett says a second officer jammed a knee into his back.
After asking what he had done wrong and telling officers he had rights, Bennett said he was taken back to a police car. Bennett said after confirming who he was, the officers let him go.
Bennett noted this as a justification for his decision this season to sit during the national anthem before games.
"I sit during the national anthem--because equality doesn't live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a "(n-word)," you will be treated that way," wrote Bennett.
Bennett says he's retained an Oakland civil rights attorney to explore his legal options including filing a civil rights lawsuit.
KING 5 is working to obtain the police report on the incident.
An online petition has been started calling for the Las Vegas Police Department to release video of the encounter and the names of the officers involved.
The following is the entire content of the letter, unedited. (Warning: There is use of the F-word and the N-word.) The post was titled "Equality."
On Saturday, August 26, 2017, I was in Las Vegas to attend the Mayweather-McGregor fight on my day off. After the fight while heading back to my hotel several hundred people heard what sounded like gun shots. 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 fucking 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. They then 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.' My life flashed before my eyes as I thought of my girls. Would I ever play with them again? Or watch them have kids? Or be able to kiss my wife again and tell her I love her?
I kept asking the Officers "What did I do?" and reminding them that I had rights they were duty bound to respect. The Officers ignored my pleas and instead told me to shut up and then took me to the back of a nearby police car where I sat for what felt like an eternity until 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.
I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply, the right thing to do. This fact is unequivocally, without question why before every game, I sit during the national anthem--because equality doesn't live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a "Nigger," you will be treated that way.
The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Charleeena Lyles felt.
I have retained Oakland Civil Rights Attorney John Burns to investigate and explore all my legal options including filing a civil rights lawsuit for the violation of my constitutional rights.
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