Body cam footage of Michael Bennett’s run-in with Las Vegas Metro Police from August 27 has now been made public. From what we can see it appears the police acted appropriately when dealing with the Seattle Seahawks defensive end.
Police released the footage and claim it justifies their actions, and it’s hard to argue with that when you see the tape. Bennett was inside the Cromwell Hotel and Casino when there were reports of shots fired. He crouched low and then rushed out of the casino area.
Police on hand saw most of the people in the area laying on the ground and Bennett running. One of the cops asked another officer if Bennett had a gun and clearly believed that was the case, so the three-man team pursued him. Outside the casino they took Bennett down and forcefully put him in a police car. Bennett was clearly agitated at the way he was being treated.
Here’s video of the chase and takedown:
Frankly, I can see both sides here. Bennett heard shots and he did what most of us would have done: He ran. But, police saw him run while almost everyone else was stationary and assumed he might be the shooter.
We can’t tell from the video what was said to Bennett when he was taken down or shortly after, since the video cuts away.
Once he was in the police car the cops explained to him that he was not under arrest but they needed to clear him and they explained why they had detained him. He didn’t have identification on him, but told them who he was, and they looked him up on their phones. They matched the picture to his face, determined he wasn’t the shooter and let him go. They shook hands and Bennett walked away.
Here’s the final segment:
In the current climate of our country, I’m sure Bennett feared for his life both inside the casino and once the cops detained him with guns drawn. But at the same time, it makes sense that police singled him out, since he was the guy they saw running from the scene.
Here is Bennett’s original statement on the incident:
A few things stand out. First, it’s entirely possible that due to a moment with heightened tensions, Bennett remembered things differently than the video showed. Human memory is often unreliable as a source. But for the most part, his statement of the facts rings true watching the footage if you put yourself in his shoes.
That said, it does not appear he was singled out for his race based upon the footage available. That appeared to be the crux of Bennett’s original statement and it does not appear that’s the case from the video.
The incident was not as adversarial as he remembered it. Police explained why he had been detained and worked to let him go as quickly as possible. While the initial takedown was violent, their guns were drawn and they did force him into the back of a police car. They believed they might be dealing with a highly dangerous, active shooter.
Everyone’s blood was up in what they believed was a life-threatening situation. The actions of both sides can be justified given that scenario.