Las Vegas police union asks NFL to investigate Michael Bennett, NFL says it won't
The NFL sent out a short statement saying it found no such investigation necessary
By Bob Condotta
The Seattle Times
LAS VEGAS — In response to claims Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett made Wednesday alleging that Las Vegas police singled him out for being black and using excessive force, the police’s union on Thursday wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking for an investigation of Bennett.
Later in the day, though, the NFL sent out a short and forceful statement saying it found no such investigation necessary.
“There is no allegation of a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation,” the NFL statement read.
The letter from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc., claimed that Bennett made “false and defamatory” comments about the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and asked Goodell to “conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action, into Michael Bennett’s obvious false allegations against our officers.”
The letter, reported by 8 News Now in Las Vegas, also notes that Bennett has been sitting for the anthem and states “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our officers.”
John Burris, an Oakland attorney who is representing Bennett on matters related to this incident, said in a phone interview with the Seattle Times that he didn’t put much stock in the impact of letter because “I don’t give a lot of credibility to unions because they always support the police no matter what.”
But Burris said “to impugn the integrity of Mr. Bennett is just outrageous.”
Burris said for the police to admit that they have not completed an investigation of the incident but for the union to conclude that Bennett is making “false and defamatory” statements is nonsensical.
“To suggest he is lying without having conducted an investigation is ridiculous,” Burris said.
Bennett on Wednesday detailed via Twitter an incident in which he was held on the ground with a gun pointed at his head while the Las Vegas police investigated if he was a suspect in a reported active shooter at Drai’s Nightclub at Cromwell Casino on Aug. 27 — Bennett was in Las Vegas to attend the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight. Bennett was later released after he said police realized who he was, and no shooting was found to have occurred with police unclear what the sound was that led to the call.
The union’s letter, authored by Detective Steve Grammas, claims police had “reasonable suspicion” to detain Bennett while they determined if he was a suspect. It concludes that Bennett’s claims that the officers, which the department has said are each Hispanic, are racist is “false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement” and says the union is happy to meet with Goodell.
The NFL on Wednesday released a statement about the incident, saying Bennett “represents the best of the NFL” and that it will support Bennett and other NFL players in “promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve.”
In a statement, Bennett said Wednesday he is considering filing a federal civil-rights lawsuit and has asked for the LVMPD to release any body camera footage of the incident. The LVPMD said Wednesday the officer directly involved in the incident did not have his camera turned on.
Burris said a lawsuit “is imminent, just not today.”
Burris also said that he has had communication with the Las Vegas Police Department and that they have agreed to turn over videos.
“We expect that soon,” Burris said. “They indicated they will try to get them available to us soon.”
Burris also took issue with a suggestion made by the Las Vegas Police Department that they had not heard of Bennett’s issues with how his situation was handled prior to Wednesday. Burris said his office made a request for the videos on Aug. 29 and did so again on Wednesday prior to a press conference conducted by undersheriff Kevin McMahill.
Burris also countered a statement McMahill made saying the department wants to talk to Bennett saying Bennett’s statement released via social media “creates enough of a basis for an investigation.”
While talking to media in Seattle on Wednesday, Bennett said he wasn’t attacking police as a whole.
“Do I think every police officer is bad? No, I don’t believe that,” he said. “Do I believe that there are some people out there that judge people by the color of their skin? I do believe that and I’m just focused on trying to push forward and keep continuously championing the quest for justice for people, keeping pushing equality for oppressed people and that’s what I am about and going to keep doing.”
Bennett’s teammates, meanwhile, continued to publicly support him on Thursday, including quarterback Russell Wilson.
“To see him on the ground like that, there’s not much more words to say then, it’s terrifying and it’s unacceptable based on the situation,” Wilson said. “Michael is a good guy. He is a guy that is trying to stand up for something good, trying to stand up for love and bringing people together, not hate. If you know Michael Bennett, he is a person who loves all people and is a person who wants to make the world a better place and he is addressing an issue that is right in the heart of the matter of what we are going through. To see him on the ground like that and to be a person who is standing up for something, but also be on the ground like that too, it’s terrifying. It’s devastating to even think about.”
©2017 The Seattle Times