In a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Las Vegas’s police union has strongly condemned both Michael Bennett and his story of abuse at the hands of city police, asking the league to investigate Bennett. Both the league and the NFL Players’ Association have responded, and they’ve refused.
Bennett, the outspoken Seattle Seahawks defensive end, released an account on Wednesday of mistreatment at the hands of Las Vegas police in the chaos after apparent gunshots. Bennett painted the treatment as racially motivated and unnecessarily harsh, and he won immediate sympathy from his team and the NFL.
The police union, following the police department’s Wednesday press conference documenting its side of the story, minces no words in its criticism of Bennett. “I request that you conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action, into Michael Bennett’s obvious false allegations against our officers,” Detective Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, wrote to Goodell in a letter released Thursday.
On Thursday evening, NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith posted a statement to Twitter in which he both supported Bennett and pressured Goodell to follow suit.
“I applaud Roger joining me in issuing a statement of support for Michael Bennett, but there are no grounds for the NFL to investigate our union rep [Bennett] and I look forward to Roger confirming the same,” Smith wrote.
The NFL sent out a brief statement confirming that the league would not investigate.
“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 said.
Setting the tone of the union’s response in the first paragraph, Grammas added, “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers.” (It is worth noting, once again, that Bennett’s workplace behavior two states away from Las Vegas is both completely unrelated to this case, and completely legal.)
Here is the full text of the letter:
Grammas gave the police officers’ side of the events, noting that the officers were responding to “one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officer can be assigned – an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino.”
Bennett claims he was running from the apparent source of the suspected shooting. In Grammas’s account, Bennett was observed hiding behind a slot machine and began running when officers turned toward him, “leaped over four (4) foot barrier wall, and hid from officers as he crouched close to the wall on the sidewalk.” At that point, Grammas said, the officers “had reasonable suspicion, which is the constitutional standard, to detain Bennett until they could determine whether he was involved in the shooting.”
(It was later determined there was no gun shot, according to LVPD.)
Undersheriff Kevin McMahill shared video of the incident on Wednesday.
Grammas added that both police officers involved in Bennett’s detention are minorities, adding, “Michael Bennett’s claim that our officers are racists is false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement.”
There are some definite discrepancies between the two stories. All of this places Goodell in the center of yet another social and law enforcement-related imbroglio, exactly what the NFL seeks to avoid.
This marks the second instance this week that a police union has taken issue with the NFL; earlier in the week, Cleveland’s police union indicated that it would protest the behavior of several Browns players during the national anthem by not holding the flag during the anthem.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.