Bennett: Las Vegas police threatened to 'blow my head off'

by
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

(Warning: Story contains coarse language)

Michael Bennett says Las Vegas police used excessive force while detaining him near his hotel following the Aug. 26 fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather after it sounded like shots were fired.

In an emotional statement describing the incident on Twitter, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end said officers racially profiled him, and placed a gun near his head and threatened to "blow (his) fucking head off" before ultimately releasing him.

Bennett is considering legal action, and said the way he was treated is an example of why he's planning to sit for the national anthem throughout the 2017 season in protest of racial inequality and police brutality.

Related - Kaepernick: I stand with Bennett after 'disgusting' incident with police

"The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Charleena Lyles felt," Bennett wrote.

Here's his statement in full:

Dear World,

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 sounds 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 to not 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 Offficers' excessive 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 to 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 right 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 "N----," you will be treated that way.

The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Charleena Lyles felt.

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Bennett

Burris described the actions of the officers as "outrageous" in an official release obtained by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and called for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department "to be transparent by immediately identifying the involved officers and releasing the officers' body camera videos of the incident."