Seahawks' Michael Bennett says police singled him out for 'simply being a black man'
Michael Bennett claims police threatened to shoot him following the Floyd Mayweather Jr versus Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas last month, "simply for being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time".
In a note addressed "Dear World" posted on his Twitter account, Bennett said he was leaving the T-Mobile Arena to return to his hotel when he and "several hundred" others in the area heard what sounded like gunshots and began to run for safety.
The Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman says he is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit after being detained by Las Vegas police.
Bennett claimed a police officer in the area stopped him and ordered him to get on the ground, then put a gun to his head and explicitly threatened to shoot him if he moved. Bennett said a second officer then "forcefully jammed his knee into my back" as they handcuffed him.
"I ran away from the sound, looking for safety," he wrote. "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 lay 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 f***** head off'.
"A second officer came over and forcefully jammed his knee into my back, making it difficult for me to breathe."
The post added: "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'.
"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 please 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 retained Oakland Civil Rights Attorney John Burris to investigate and explore all my legal options including filing a civil rights lawsuit for the violation of my constitutional rights."
Bennett sat on the bench during the national anthem before the Seahawks' games this preseason and said he plans to do so throughout the regular season while continuing to "use my platform to be able to speak on injustice."
He said in the statement he released Wednesday that the Las Vegas incident "unequivocally" reinforced his belief that "equality doesn't live in this country."
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a vocal critic against what he perceives to be social injustice in America, posted his support for Bennett on Twitter.
"This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust. I stand with Michael and I stand with the people," he wrote.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) responded to Bennett's allegations, urging for judgement to be reserved while an investigation is undertaken.
A tweet from LVMPD's official account read: "Reference a statement made by Michael Bennett, this case is under investigation. Reserve judgment. We will address this publicly today."