SEATTLE — The Las Vegas Metro Police Department (NVMPD) released new body camera video on Friday from its investigation into the encounter with officers and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
Bennett in early September accused Las Vegas police of racially motivated excessive force, saying he was threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino hotel.
Bennett, who has recently remained seated during the national anthem prior to football games, posted a statement to Twitter detailing his side of the story.
The NVMPD first gave a news conference in early September about the accusations, saying there was no evidence Bennett was detained because of his race. On Friday, the sheriff reported no evidence of excessive force, and he showed the controversial interaction between Bennett and officers.
According to the department, officers were investigating an active shooter call — which turned out to be false — and Bennett running quickly prompted a chase.
The chase ended with the controversial encounter. Scroll down below to read expanded sections on what happened.
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The events leading up to the encounter
The Las Vegas Police Department has shared body camera video during a news conference of the scene that unfolded outside and inside the casino-hotel, The Cromwell and Drai Nightclub, leading up to the incident with Bennett on August 27.
The video shows officers responding to an active shooter call, which turned out to be false.
According to police, a stanchion was knocked over during a fight, which prompted reports of a shooting.
As officers investigated, patrons panicked as they tried to leave the building. Video shows people screaming and scrambling to get out of the casino and others trying to hide.
See video of when chaos unfolded, and scroll down to keep reading.
In the body camera video, officers can be heard telling people to leave casino. Thousands of people were in the area at the time of the active shooter call, according to police.
Bennett was crouched down as officers approached, and then he quickly ran, and jumped over a ledge onto busy Flamingo Boulevard. This led officers to chase him and order him to the ground, police said.
Watch the video of his interaction with officers while in the back of a police car below. Scroll down to read Bennett's letter.
After digging into 861 tapes, police released new body camera video on Friday that showed officers putting Bennett in the back of the police car. Bennett is panicked, asking what he did wrong, and pleading to be let go.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the video shows some claims that Bennett made were not true, such as a gun being held to his head. Lombardo said that while officers had a gun in hand while putting Bennett in cuffs, it was not directed at his head.
As for the claims officers said they would, "blow his ******* head off," Lombardo reports his department found no evidence of that.
What Bennett says in his letter
Bennett wrote in his letter that he was visiting Las Vegas to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight, and he was on the way to his hotel when he was detained.
According to Bennett's statement, police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint, jammed a knee into his back and handcuffed him so tight that his fingers went numb.
According to Bennett, one officer placed a gun near his head and warned him if he moved his would "blow his ******* head off."
In his letter, Bennett called it an excessive use of force, simply because he was a "black man in the wrong place at the wrong time." Read his full letter below, and scroll down to watch video of part of the encounter.
A brief video obtained by TMZ Sports surfaced just hours after the letter. It showed part of the encounter between police and Bennett, where he lay on the ground as an officer puts him in handcuffs.
“I wasn’t doing nothing, man,” Bennett is heard saying in the video. “They told us to get out and everybody ran.”
Bennett's attorney on the encounter
Bennett's attorney, John Burris in Oakland, California, said he believed the TMZ 30-second video clip showed some of how his client was treated.
"We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head," Burris told The Associated Press. "He was just in the crowd. He doesn't drink or do drugs. He wasn't in a fight. He wasn't resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd."
Burris said Bennett waited to make public his account of the incident until after Burris contacted Las Vegas police last week by letter and email, seeking police records of Bennett's detention.
What NVMPD say about 'bias-based policing'
In addition to explaining the events leading up to the encounter, police commented on social media commentary that the detention was motivated by race.
"Many of the folks ... have called this an incident of biased-based policing … police officers focused solely on the race of an individual … I can tell you as I stand here today I see no evidence of that," said NVMPD Undersheriff Kevin McMahill.
"In fact as you may have noticed, while officers were searching the casino they were able to evacuate many patrons of all races. It's also important for me to note to you both of the officers involved in this incident in question are of Hispanic origin," McMahill said.
McMahill invited Bennett and his legal team to make a formal statement to the officers. According to McHill, after his detention, Bennett told officers that he understood the events that led to the incident. He did mention to police that he had an issue with the officer who held a gun to his head.
In their second news conference, Lombardo commended the officers for following their training, and he called them heroic for running into a possible active shooter situation.
One of the officers involved in the incident did not have his body camera activated.
About Bennett as an advocate
Bennett is one of the 200 NFL players who didn’t participate in the national anthem over the weekend in the wake of President Donald Trump suggesting the NFL bar players from kneeling in protest.
The entire Seahawks team also didn’t participate during the anthem and sat out in the lockerroom before their game against the Tennessee Titans.
Over the last year, Bennett has been a leader of the national anthem protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Before President Trump’s comments on the NFL, Bennett gave this reason for his protesting:
“I have always held the 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 have much you give, when you are seen as a ‘n*****,' you will be treated that way."
Pete Carroll supports his players and Bennett. At a news conference on Monday, Carroll told reporters he understands why people are upset with the protests, but he hopes that they listen.
"It is not about denigration of the flag or our country," Carroll said. "We all can learn what we want to learn out of this, but I hope we learn about empathy."
Cox Media Group