SEATTLE — Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett spoke Wednesday at a conference on a police confrontation he described as a "traumatic experience."
Bennett said Las Vegas police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint and threatened to "blow my ******* head off" for "simply being a black man" after it was believed a shooting happened on the strip.
"It's a tough situation for me," Bennett said at the conference Wednesday. "Do I think every police officer is bad? No … Do I believe some people judge people on the color of their skin? I do believe that."
“It’s an emotional moment for me," Bennett said.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also spoke at the conference Wednesday.
Carroll called the police confrontation described by Bennett a "horrendous incident."
“We stand in support of him and anyone facing inequalities,” Carroll said in a conference Wednesday.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman spoke on the incident at the same conference.
Sherman called it “an unfortunate part of life” and said he’s also had to face racial inequality.
“Thankfully I made it out alive,” Sherman said of incidents in his past.
“He made it out alive," Sherman said of Bennett.
“May this incident inspire all of us to respond with compassion when inequalities are brought to light. And allow us to stand up for change, because we can do better than this," Carroll said.
Bennett said he was the victim of excessive force and racial profiling while he was in Las Vegas for a boxing match last month.
The letter posted on social media via his Twitter account, starting with "Dear World," details an incident, captured in a brief video posted by TMZ Sports, on Aug. 26 when he was in Las Vegas to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight.
Bennett said after the match, while he was heading back to the hotel that night, gunshots were fired and as he, like others, tried to flee from the sound, police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint, jammed a knee into his back and handcuffed him so tight that his fingers went numb in what he called an excessive use of force, simply because he was a "black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."
According to Bennett, one officer placed a gun near his head and warned him if he moved his would "blow his ******* head off."
Bennett said officers refused to answer his questions of “What did I do?” and that he feared for his life.
Eventually, after sitting in the back of a police car “for what felt like an eternity,” he was released after they realized he “was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man, but Michael Bennett, a famous professional football player.”
Addressing why he's been sitting during the national anthem at football games, Bennett said:
"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."
Bennett went on to say the system failed him and referenced local woman Charleena Lyles, who was shot by Seattle police during an altercation earlier this year, as well as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others.
The letter ended with him saying he had retained a civil rights attorney to explore all his legal options, including a civil rights lawsuit, for the violation of his constitutional rights.
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