Prosecutor Drops Charges After Grand Jury Indicts NFL Player Michael Bennett
Houston, TX – Prosecutors announced April 3 that they were dropping the charges against National Football League (NFL) player Michael Bennett, who was accused of injuring a handicapped senior citizen at Super Bowl LI in Houston.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Bennett was indicted by a grand jury in March of 2018 on one count of intentional injury to the elderly, according to KIRO.
The charge carries a penalty of up a fine of up to $10,000, and 10 years in prison.
The Harris County district attorney said the decision to ultimately dismiss the charge against the football player was made after they reviewed the video evidence.
"After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said Vivian King, the chief of staff for the district attorney, according to KIRO. "There was probable cause to warrant a charge initially, but after a careful review of all the pre-charge and post-charge evidence, we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. We dismissed the case in the interest of justice."
The Harris County district attorney had initially issued a warrant for the arrest of the 33-year-old Philadelphia Eagle after the grand jury indictment.
Bennet was traded to Philadelphia by the Seattle Seahawks shortly before the Super Bowl.
Police said that on Feb. 5, 2017, Bennett traveled to Houston to cheer for his brother, Marcellus Bennett, who played for the New England Patriots.
After the Patriots won the game, fans attempted to swarm the field, and were held back by NRG Stadium’s security team.
Bennett was told to use a different entrance for access to the field but he shoved his way through security and onto the field, KHOU reported.
In the process of pushing his way through security, it was alleged that Bennett injured a 66-year-old paraplegic woman working with the team.
Bennett’s attorney called the incident “a total misunderstanding,” according to KIRO.
"There were numerous relatives of New England players who were authorized to be down on the field after the game that went through a door this lady was guarding," Hardin said, according to KIRO. "And whatever happened to her, whatever type of event occurred, it was not done by Michael and this dismissal confirms that."
This was not Bennett’s first run in with law enforcement.
In September of 2017, Bennett was in trouble with Las Vegas Metro PD after he lied about what happened when he was detained for about 10 minutes during an active-shooter situation.
Shortly after the incident, Bennett released a statement complaining that he had been racially profiled.
He accused the Las Vegas Metro officers of pointing their guns at him for "doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."
He claimed that the officers used excessive force which had been “unbearable,” and wrote that he thought he was going to die during the incident.
“My life flashed before my eyes as thought of my girls. Would ever play with them again? Or watch them have kids? Or be able to kiss my wife again and tell her love her?” his dramatic statement read.
He announced that he had hired civil rights attorney John Burris, who represented Rodney King against Los Angeles, to explore legal remedies for what he called “civil rights violations.”
Shortly thereafter, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department clapped back, and announced they had bodycam video and information which made it clear that Bennett was fabricating much of his story.
The Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for an investigation into Bennett’s false accusations.
“We believe that a fair investigation will establish that our officers responded to one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officer can be assigned- an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino,” the letter said.
Then the letter went on to explain what had brought Bennett to the officers’ attention in the middle of an active-shooter situation.
“As our uniformed officers entered the casino, they observed Bennett hiding behind a slot machine. When officers turned towards Bennett, he bolted out of the casino, leaped over four (4) foot barrier wall, and hid from officers as he crouched close to the wall on the sidewalk,” the letter informed the NFL boss.
“I am sure that your attorney will tell you, our officers had reasonable suspicion, which is the constitutional standard, to detain Bennett until they could determine whether he was involved in the shooting,” the letter said. “Our officers, who are both minorities, had the legal right, and obligation, to detain Bennett based upon the nature of the call and Bennett's unusual and suspicious actions. Our officers did not detain Bennett because he was, ‘a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.’"
The letter said that Michael Bennett's claim that the officers were racists was false and offensive, and asked the football league to take action against the player.
The Seattle Seahawks and NFL backed Bennett despite proof that much of his story was false.
Police reviewed surveillance footage from more than 120 cameras and determined the officers had behaved appropriately.