In a viral social media post this week, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett accused Las Vegas police officers of having arrested him and used excessive force "for doing nothing more than being a black man at the wrong place at the wrong time." But in a press conference Wednesday, Las Vegas police said there is absolutely "no evidence" of racial profiling and provided several details left out of Bennett's account that significantly change the story.
Here's how Bennett, who is one of the NFL players who has protested the national anthem, framed his account that he posted on Twitter:
On Saturday, August 26, 2016, 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 sounded 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 being a black man at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The officers, claims Bennett, used excessive force, one officer allegedly telling him he'd "blow my f***ing head off" and "forcefully jamm[ing] his knee" into his back. "The Officers' excessive use of force was unbearable," he wrote.
Bennett was handcuffed and led to the back of a police car. The officers soon released him after verifying his identity and determined he was not a threat.
At a press conference on Wednesday evening, a representative of Las Vegas law enforcement, Kevin McMahill, addressed Bennett's incendiary accusations and provided more context for his temporary arrest.
"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," said McMahill.
As the officers — who McMahill noted were Hispanic — moved toward the nightclub, they saw Bennett crouching behind a gaming machine. When he was fully in their view, he ran.
"As [officers] moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached," said McMahill. "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."
Bennett's suspicious actions, not his race, is why he was detained, the officer explained. (The detail of Bennett running when the cops appeared also aligns with a report by TMZ Sports.)
"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," said McMahill. "Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the incident."
"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," added McMahill.
The one detail from Bennett's account that the department is still investigating, said McMahill, is if the officer actually made the threat that the athlete claims he did.
Despite there being "no evidence" that he was targeted for being black, rather than because he was running from the scene, as would seems obvious, Bennett declares in his statement that the "system failed me" and said what he experienced is exactly why he is protesting the United States:
I have always held the strong conviction that protesting or just standing up for justice is 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.
Bennett ends his statement by saying he's exploring all his legal options, including a civil rights lawsuit. Here's his full statement: