Seahawks player accuses Metro of using excessive force and racia - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Seahawks player accuses Metro of using excessive force and racial profiling

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Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett said Metro singled him out during an incident on the Strip. (Source: TMZ) Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett said Metro singled him out during an incident on the Strip. (Source: TMZ)

Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett said he was racially profiled on the Las Vegas Strip by Metro police. 

Bennett said he came to Las Vegas to attend the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor fight on Aug. 26. While he was heading back to his hotel after the fight, he said "several hundred people heard what sounded like gun shots" and they ran from the sound. 

On Aug. 27, Metro police confirmed to FOX5 that officers responded to reports of a shooting and altercation inside Drai's nightclub. Police said a fight occurred and a few large statues were knocked over, which caused many to panic thinking there was gunfire. Police said no shots were fired. The incident occurred approximately three hours after the boxing match ended. Arriving officers said they encountered thousands of people running and screaming from The Crowell. 

In a statement posted on Twitter, Bennett claimed Metro police officers singled him out and pointed their guns at him for not doing anything. 

He said a police officer ordered him to the ground and the officer placed a gun near his head, warning him that if he moved he would "blow my (expletive) head off." He added, a second officer came over and jammed his knee into his back making it difficult for him to breathe. Then he said the officer placed handcuffs on him so tight that his fingers went numb.

TMZ obtained video of the incident, that was shot right outside of Drai's nightclub.

He said he continued to ask the officer what he did but said the officer ignored him and took him to the police car. Bennett said he was eventually released "without any legitimate justification."

Bennett said Metro's "excessive use of force was unbearable" and while laying on the floor all he could think was "I'm going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat."

Bennett said he retained civil rights attorney John Burris to investigate the incident and explore any legal options. 

FOX5 reached out to Metro police, and the department responded publicly in a tweet before holding a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. 

During a press conference with the police department, Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said as officers cleared the casino they saw a man, later identified as Bennett crouched down by a machine. He eventually ran from the casino and jumped over a wall toward the street. Metro officers chased Bennett, believing he may have been involved in the incident at the nightclub and yelled at him to stop, but police said he continued to move. 

Police safely evacuated "patrons of all races," McMahill said. Adding, there is "no evidence that race played a role in this incident."

McMahill said he did not know why police officers thought Bennett may have been involved in the incident, adding it is under investigation. 

Bennett was detained for approximately 10 minutes, McMahill said. A supervisor explained the incident to Bennett who allegedly told officers he had no problems with the incident besides an officer putting a gun to his head. 

McMahill confirmed the officers both had their weapons out but they are investigating the allegations that an officer pointed it at his head and said he would blow his head off. Bennett was not armed. 

McMahill said the first he heard of the incident was when he saw a TMZ video posted online along with the statement on Bennett's Twitter page. The department opened an internal investigation without Bennett's complaint. 

During the press conference, McMahill asked Bennett to submit his complaint to the internal affairs department at Metro. 

McMahill said there are 126 videos associated with this incident that they have to review. He said the "arresting officer did not activate his personal body camera," so it cannot be reviewed. If the investigation reveals that the officers were in violation of department policies they will be held accountable. The work status of the officers involved in the incident has not changed. 

McMahill asked the public to send the department video if they have anything from the night of the incident. Any video that can assist with the investigation can be submitted to the internal affairs department. The department can be reached by phone at 702-828-3111. 

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll addressed the incident during the team's press conference on Wednesday. Carroll said he is thankful that Bennett is safe and the team stands with him. He added, Bennett was very emotional the morning after the incident and Bennett is working on how to take the next step. 

Bennett also addressed the media on Wednesday, calling the incident a "traumatic experience."

"Do I think every police offer is bad? No," Bennett said. "Do I believe that there are some people out there that judge them based on the color of their skin? Yes, I believe that."

Bennett said he is sharing his experience because there are a lot of people who did not live to share theirs, citing Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin adding, he is "lucky to be here right now."

A reporter asked if he had heard from the Las Vegas police department and he said he is letting his legal team and representatives "take care of it."

Bennett did not go into detail on what happened prior to the incident and said he is focused on the task at hand, which is the game. 

Stay with FOX5 and for developments.

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