Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says that he was terrified during his encounter with Las Vegas Metropolitan police officers on Aug. 27, and he plans to sue the department for what he considers to be an incident that started because of the color of his skin.
“It felt like a movie almost because everything was happening so fast. People were, like, running; people were scared because nobody knew what was going on,” Bennett told Nightline’s Byron Pitts in his first interview since the incident happened.
Bennett told Pitts that word spread there were gunshots in the lobby of the Cromwell Casino, and people took off running. Bennett confirmed that no one saw a gun, but everyone saw panic.
“We saw police, we saw SWAT and everybody’s on the ground crawling, and people are asking, ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to do?’ so we started trying to get away,” Bennett said.
Bennett told Pitts that once he got outside, he was accosted by two police officers who he says singled him out because of the color of his skin.
“All of a sudden, I hear someone say, ‘Get on the ground,’ and there’s a few guns already drawn, and at that point I’m just thinking, ‘Is this really real?’”
Bennett said he was terrified to make a move. He asked the officer to tell him what he did because he was scared and wanted to go home. He says he told the officer that he was Michael Bennett from the Seattle Seahawks, but the officer told him to “shut the fuck up before I blow your head off.”
Bennett says that the officers eventually Googled to confirm he was who he said he was. In that moment, Bennett says, he went from being just a “black man” to being a football player.
LVMPD contends that Bennett had been running and acting suspiciously. Bennett’s lawyer, John Burris, told Nightline that they want police to release all the videos related to the incident.
“Unless something changes drastically that we don’t know of, we are going to file a lawsuit,” Burris said.
Bennett said it was emotional to explain to his 10-year-old daughter about stereotyping and racial profiling and what it means for him as a black man and her as a young black girl growing up in America.
Bennett said that the experience has changed him forever.
“Every time I see my wife, I try to kiss her like it’s the first time we ever met,” Bennett said. “Every time I play with my daughters, I try to hold them like they were just born. Because I don’t know, and that situation right there let me know that it could happen at any moment.”
Watch the interview at ABC News.