The Las Vegas Metro Police Department on Wednesday denied Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett’s accusation of racial profiling during an August incident in which Bennett claimed he was unlawfully detained.
Bennett, in a open letter posted to Twitter on Wednesday, said that he was the victim of police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive force after gunshots rang out in a Las Vegas neighborhood after the Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, which he attended.
Bennett said that a gun was allegedly drawn on him before he was threatened, physically restrained, and held in a police car. He blamed the incident on “being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The football player’s open letter graphically detailed the alleged incident — which included an allegation that one of the officers threatened that he would “blow” Bennett’s “f***ing head off” — and revealed that he retained an attorney and is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit.
Vegas police statements
On Wednesday, LVMPD issue a preliminary statement on Twitter, which read, “Reference a statement made by Michael Bennett, this case is under investigation. Reserve judgment. We will address this publicly today.”
Reference a statement made by Michael Bennett, this case is under investigation. Reserve judgment. We will address this publicly today.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) September 6, 2017
In a news conference Wednesday evening, Kevin McMahill, undersheriff for the department, said that there was no evidence that Bennett had been racially profiled and added that police video surveillance will back up their claim.
“I can tell you as I stand here today, I see no evidence of [racial profiling]. I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident,” he said.
McMahill also explained that he didn’t believe racial profiling played a role in Bennett’s detainment, because the officers who accosted Bennett were Hispanic.
Describing the department’s account of events, McMahill said that they had received a report on the possibility of an active shooter near the Cromwell Casino.
According to McMahill, “As [officers] moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached. Once Bennett was in the officer’s view, he quickly ran out the south doors, jumped over a wall onto Flamingo Road East of Las Vegas Boulevard into traffic.”
McMahill said that Bennett was apprehended and handcuffed because police believed Bennett’s flight from the casino to be suspicious.
“Due to Bennett’s actions, and the information the officers had at the time, they believed that Bennett may have been involved in the shooting and they gave chase,” McMahill continued. “Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the incident.”
He said that once Bennett was released, police explained the situation to him and perceived that the football player understood their actions.
“Mr. Bennett, at the scene, had the incident explained to him by a supervisor and he said that he understood and that he had no problem with what the officers did,” McMahill said.
McMahill did admit, however, that part of their investigation stemmed from the allegation Bennett made in his letter, referring to the aforementioned threat of gun violence.
“That’s part of what we have to investigate,” McMahill said.