Michael Bennett speaks out about Las Vegas police ‘excessive use of force’

Published: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 @ 6:15 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 @ 7:12 PM

Michael Bennett Describes “Traumatic Experience” During Police Confrontation

UPDATE Sept. 6 7:12 PM:  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement on Michael Bennett’s letter about Las Vegas police.

According to the statement, the Las Vegas police will respond to the letter later Wednesday evening.

“Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family...,” the statement said. “We will support Micahel and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law.”

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ORIGINAL STORY:

In an open letter posted on Twitter, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says Las Vegas police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint, put a gun near his head and threatened to shoot him after hearing gunshots were fired nearby.

Bennett detailed the incident that was 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, people heard gunshots fired and he, like others, tried to flee. 

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According to Bennett's statement, police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint, jammed a knee into his back and handcuffed him so tightly that his fingers went numb.

The video, which is reportedly shot outside of Drai’s Nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip, shows Bennett asking why he was being detained. 

“I wasn’t doing nothing, man,” Bennett is heard saying in the video. “They told us to get out and everybody ran.”

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, parts of Drai’s Nightclub were evacuated early Sunday for shooting reports that turned out to be false. The police department found that large statues were knocked down onto the tile floor during a fight, which caused panic and prompted reports of a shooting. 

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.” He said one officer placed a gun near his head and warned him if he moved he would “blow his (expletive) head off.”

Bennett said officers refused to answer him when he asked, “What did I do?” He said he feared for his life.

According to TMZ Sports, citing unnamed sources it says are connected to the investigation, police ordered everyone to get down and not move. When Bennett ran, an officer stopped him at gunpoint and ordered him to get on the ground.

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.”

Bennett, who has been sitting in protest during the national anthem in recent games, gave his reasoning for the protest in the letter.

“(E)quality 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 ‘(racial slur)’ you will be treated that way.”

Bennett spoke more about the letter at a news conference Wednesday, calling the police confrontation a “traumatic experience.”

“Do I think every police officer is bad? No,” Bennett said. “Do I believe some people judge people on the color of their skin? I do believe that.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the same news conference he and the team “stand in support of him and anyone facing inequalities.”

“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.

ESPN reported that Bennett said he was considering filing a civil rights lawsuit. His letter said he has hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris.

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‘Pacman’ Jones assaulted at Atlanta airport, police say

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 12:37 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 2:31 PM

Adam Jones played nine games for the Bengals last season. 
Tim Warner/Getty Images
Adam Jones played nine games for the Bengals last season. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Former Cincinnati Bengal Adam “Pacman” Jones was assaulted by a contract worker at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, police said. 

The ABM worker, identified as Frank Ragin, made a gesture toward Jones about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Atlanta police said. Jones confronted the man about what he meant by the gesture and the two began to argue, according to police.

Frank Ragin

 

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ABM is a contractor that deals with airport building maintenance and facility services. The argument occurred on the airport’s concourse B, police said. 

Ragin allegedly punched Jones, injuring his face. He also allegedly struck Jones’ companion, who has not been identified, injuring her hand. 

Police said Jones, 34, a native of Atlanta, then pushed Ragin to the ground. Police eventually determined Ragin was the primary aggressor. 

Ragin, who was charged with two counts of battery, was transported to a downtown Atlanta hospital to be treated for his injuries.  

TMZ Sports obtained video of the incident. (Note: Video includes offensive language)

Jones and his companion declined medical treatment.

Jones, who was drafted in 2005 out of West Virginia by the Tennessee Titans, has also played for the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. The cornerback played in nine games for the Bengals last season. He is currently a free agent.

Jones was arrested in January 2017, accused of assault, disorderly conduct and other charges related to an incident in Cincinnati's downtown entertainment district.

Jones was acquitted in 2013 on an assault charge in Hamilton County after a woman accused him of punching her in a nightclub. Earlier that year, he paid a fine for disorderly conduct after police accused him of making offensive comments during a traffic stop. He also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in January 2012 after an arrest at a Cincinnati bar.

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NFL Players Association files grievance over anthem policy

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 1:15 PM

NFL Announces Policy Change Regarding National Anthem

The NFL Players Association announced Tuesday that it has filed a grievance against the league’s national anthem policy, which was put in place in May.

NFL owners approved the policy May 23. Under it, individual teams will have the ability to fine players and other personnel who do not stand and “show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

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At the time of the policy’s approval, the NFLPA issued a statement against it, saying the owners did not consult the union.

“NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about,” the union said in a statement. “The vote by NFL club CEOs (May 23) contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principals, values and patriotism of our League.

“Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

Related: NFL owners approve new national anthem policy, will fine teams that allow players to kneel

In the NFLPA’s announcement Tuesday, the union said the policy infringes on players’ rights:

“Our union filed its non-injury grievance today on behalf of all players challenging the NFL’s recently imposed anthem policy. The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.

“In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon.”

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Trump says there's 'no leadership in NFL'

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

Roger Goodell Wants NFL Players To Stand During Anthem

President Donald Trump on Monday lamented what he called a lack of leadership in the NFL days after the league’s commissioner said no plans are in place to force football players to stand during the national anthem.

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“Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “No leadership in NFL!”

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NFL commissioner Roger Goddell said last week that he believes players “should” stand for the anthem, but that team owners and other officials are focused on understanding the issues that are prompting the protests. He said that players will not be penalized if they choose to kneel during the anthem.

"I think our clubs all see this the same way -- we want our players to stand, we're going to encourage them to stand and we're going to continue to work on these issues in the community," Goodell said Tuesday at a news conference following the Fall League Meeting in New York.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem last year, to protest police violence against minorities. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players -- and players in other sports -- have since followed Kaepernick’s lead, to protest inequality.

>> Related: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants players to stand during national anthem, memo says

“They're talking about criminal justice reform,” Goddell said last week. “They're talking about changes that, I think, will make our communities better -- that there's bipartisan support for and that need focus. … They're talking about equality issues, making sure we're doing everything we possibly can to give people an opportunity, whether it's an education or economic and what we can do to try to effectuate that. And we believe, with the players, that we can help them, we can support them. And those are our issues, national issues, American issues that are all important."

Trump suggested last month that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.”

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(Evan Vucci/AP)
Goddell said last week that players “are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag, but they also understand how it's being interpreted, and we're dealing with those underlying issues."

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Former Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel signs with CFL team

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 12:22 PM

What You Need To Know About Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel is taking his football career north of the border.

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The former Texas A&M star quarterback who had two disappointing seasons with the Cleveland Browns marred by off-the-field antics has signed a two-year-deal with the Canadian Football League.

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Manziel will play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the league announced Saturday. Manziel confirmed his decision on Twitter. "I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds," Manziel wrote.

Manziel last played professional football in 2015. He has a 74.4 career quarterback rating in the NFL.

Manziel has been working on a comeback since being released by the Browns in 2016. Known for his excessive partying off the field, Manziel says he is now sober and has been receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. 

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