Updated Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, 9:30 p.m. EDT: Because the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is looking for ways to prove that Michael Bennett somehow deserved the treatment he got from its officers 12 days ago, the department now says that it is investigating whether or not he was involved in an altercation earlier in the evening before he was detained by officers at gunpoint.
Remember, the reports of shots being fired in the casino were eventually found to be erroneous. Nevertheless, Bennett was detained for doing what any person who heard gunshots inside a casino would do: running and hiding.
On Thursday, LVMPD spokesperson Larry Hadfield told USA Today Sports, “It’s fair to say the LVMPD is continuing to investigate whether Mr. Bennett was involved in the altercation at the hotel casino prior to his detention on Las Vegas Boulevard.”
Hadfield told USA Today that police couldn’t yet confirm whether Bennett was involved in an incident at Drai’s Nightclub inside the Cromwell Las Vegas hotel immediately before the erroneous reports of gunshots, but they are looking into it.
So basically, they are digging and looking for anything that could possibly link this man to some sort of crime so that they can justify his mistreatment at the hands of their officers.
Never mind that even if he had been involved in an altercation, the officers who detained him on the Strip would not have knowledge of that, and it would have had no bearing on their detaining him in response to alleged gunshots.
Bennett is now being targeted because he dared to speak openly and honestly about what could be considered aggressive, hostile and racist policing on the part of the LVMPD.
It would be so much easier for the Police Department to say, “Hey, it’s possible something went wrong here. Let’s look into it and see what happened.” Instead, it is choosing to attack the victim and try to discredit him in the eyes of everyone watching, and I suppose that this is ultimately giving the public our answer.
The police may have done something incredibly shitty, and they may be going to great lengths to cover it up.
The union representing Las Vegas police officers wrote a letter Thursday asking the NFL to investigate Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett in response to claims he made Wednesday that officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department singled him out and used excessive force against him simply because he is black.
The letter from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro Inc. accuses Bennett of making “false and defamatory” comments against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Written by union president Police Detective Steve Grammas and addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the letter begins:
On behalf of the rank-and-file members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, I request that you conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action, into Michael Bennett’s obvious false allegations against our officers. While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American flag and everything it symbolizes, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the league will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our officers.
(Insert needle scratching across the record.)
First of all, as previously reported on The Root, most of the Aug. 26 incident was caught on video that actually shows the cops cuffing and detaining Bennett without explanation. He can be heard in the video calling one officer “Sir” and asking why he is facedown on the pavement being cuffed as another officer holds a gun on him.
Second, the flag statement is a reference to Bennett standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and not standing for the national anthem, something that not only is his constitutional right not to do so but also is not a subject up for debate by police who just want to assassinate his character.
The police union letter goes on to cite Bennett’s Twitter post about the incident, and says that while LVMPD has not yet investigated the incident to determine whether or not the officers were justified in stopping and detaining Bennett, the union believes that the two officers had reasonable suspicion to do so.
The union then throws in the “both officers were minorities” card, because of course, minority cops can’t be assholes to other minorities. It’s totally against the rules of being a minority or something.
The letter asserts: “Our officers did not detain Bennett because he was ‘a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.’ Michael Bennett’s claim that our officers are racists is false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement. We hope you will take appropriate action against Michael Bennett. I am available to meet with you and will provide any other information you deem necessary.”
Well, OK then.
In response to an inquiry from a reporter with CBS in Las Vegas, the NFL said that it found no such investigation necessary.
In an email to 8 News Now reporter Vanessa Murphy, the NFL’s vice president of communications said, “There is no allegation of a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation.”
It will be interesting to see what comes of the LVMPD internal investigation.
Since Bennett was not arrested or charged for any crime, we can safely assume he has not committed any crime. Why, then, does this letter attempt to paint him as a criminal and a villain in this scenario?
Furthermore, circling back to the standing-for-the-flag issue, doesn’t the flag stand for the freedom we all have to choose whether or not we want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or national anthem? Why is that mentioned in the letter as some sort of subversive attack on Bennett’s character?
There is an ugly thing I’ve noticed happening more and more, and that is the use of certain words as weapons that tar and feather Americans for doing the very thing that is their right to do: making a choice.
There is no law that says you have to stand for the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance. It is a social norm. People who don’t treat the flag as if it’s a sacred covenant between Americans and the creator of the heavens and the earth are said to be unpatriotic or un-American.
You make a choice to do that, and you get the head of a police union sending out a dog whistle to a certain political and ideological base about you.
And again, the police have not even conducted their own internal investigation to see if the police acted correctly. They have not even determined that, but they are already blaming the victim. Typical.
Even in its initial statement on the issue, while the NFL said it would stand behind and support Bennett, it also made a pandering statement about fostering mutual respect between the police and American citizens.
Yeah ... about that ...
In the end, Bennett did what any normal person would do. He, like many, thought he heard gunshots, and black people don’t stand around for that shit to try to ascertain what is going on. We get the fuck on, and we hide or duck or whatever we have to do to get away from the gunfire.
The police tackled a man for a normal response to gunfire.
But he’s the one with the problem for calling it out.
OK (in my Jigga “Story of O.J.” voice).