The head of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department says officers acted appropriately and professionally detaining Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett after a report of gunfire at an after-hours club on the Las Vegas Strip.
Bennett, an outspoken football star, claims officers forced him to the ground at gunpoint, threatened to blow off his head, and held him painfully, despite having no reason to suspect Bennett of a crime. It came during a chaotic situation inside the Cromwell Casino in the early hours of August 27th, following reports of an active shooter at the property.
Bennett claims police sought him out solely because he was an African American in the wrong place. However, on Friday, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that reviews of hundreds of videos, including police body-worn cameras, found no evidence that officers racially profiled Bennett or used excessive force.
“Going through the evidence, it’s evident that they (officers) acted accordingly,” Sheriff Lombardo said.
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Lombardo says nothing has been found to support Bennett’s allegation, made on Twitter, that an officer put a gun to his head and threatened to blow his head off.
Police say Bennett darted behind a row of slot machines and failed to stop when officers noticed him running from a crowded casino during a search for what police believed was an active shooter.
The ACLU released the following statement about Metro’s findings.
“The ACLU of Nevada appreciates the LVMPD’s thorough investigation, but it is apparent that the most inflammatory claim made by Michael Bennett against the department – that an officer held a gun to his head and threatened him – has not been confirmed or denied as a result of the investigation,” said Tod Story, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “That is because the officer in question failed to activate his body-worn camera according to department policies. It is concerning that the public today has no idea what the penalties for failing to activate a bodycam are, and we are concerned by the department’s stance that any policy violations uncovered as a result of the investigation will not be made public. The fears Mr. Bennett experienced during this incident were real, and raise important questions about racial profiling by police officers that warrant further consideration to solve this systemic issue across the country.”