Regular readers know I have been following the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police since I began writing about the Erik Scott case in 2010. Scott was an Army veteran, a West Point graduate, the holder of a Duke master’s degree in business, and a prominent Las Vegas businessman with no criminal record. He was shot and killed by three panicky Metro cops on July 10, 2010. My subsequent investigation of that case revealed that not only did the officers have no cause to shoot Scott, Metro engaged in a clumsy, massive cover up of their murder of Scott that continues to this day. I also learned that Metro routinely murders and abuses citizens, and the entire corrupt Las Vegas establishment—police, politicians and courts–are complicit in these crimes and cover ups. Because of this system-wide support, the killers of Scott, and those that helped them, who would have been jailed virtually anywhere else, still threaten the citizens and visitors of Las Vegas.
There is now another incident that could easily—considering the quality of Metro officers–have ended in the death of a citizen, but did not. I refer to the case of NFL player Michael Bennett, as Legal Insurrection explains:
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett accused Las Vegas officers of racial profiling and excessive force after the Mayweather-Mcgregor fight in August.
Bennett claimed that the police singled him out and one even threatened to “blow his head off.” The NFL backed Bennett’s story, but the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) has strongly come out and denied all of Bennett’s claim. The two arresting officers are Hispanic males.
There is, as always, another side to this story:
Detective Steve Grammas, the president of the Las Vegas Metro Police Protective Association, has even asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate Bennett’s actions.
The incident took place on August 25 at 1:30AM when the police received a call about a possible shooter around Drai’s nightclub in the Cromwell casino. Kevin McMahill, the Undersheriff of the LVMPD, described the situation at a press conference. From CBS Sports:
After clearing the casino, a team of officers started heading toward Drai’s nightclub, and while they were on the way there, they located Bennett.
‘As they moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached,’ McMahill sald. ‘Once Bennett was in the officer’s view, he quickly ran out the south doors, jumped over a wall onto Flamingo Road East of Las Vegas Boulevard into traffic.’ [skip]
‘Due to Bennett’s actions, and the information the officer’s had at the time, they believed that Bennett may have been involved in the shooting and they gave chase,’ McMahill said. ‘Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the incident.
And how long was Bennett detained?
The police handcuffed Bennett for 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES. McMahill also said that Bennett told the officers on the scene ‘that he ‘understood.’ CBS Sports continued:
‘Mr. Bennett, at the scene, had the incident explained to him by a supervisor and he said that he understood and that he had no problem with what the officers did,’ McMahill said.
The Police have said they’re investigating Bennett’s allegations. Of course, the usual suspects are making the most of what may be nothing more than reasonable policing:
The incident is being turned into a civil rights cause, and being used as an excuse for grotesquely overpaid, steroid-infused adolescents in adult bodies refusing to render proper honors to the flag at athletic contests. SB Nation adds detail:
At the end of the letter, Bennett says that he has hired Oakland Civil Rights Attorney John Burris to “’nvestigate and explore all my legal options’ as well as ‘filing a civil rights lawsuit for the violation of my constitutional rights.’
Burris released a statement, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
‘Mr. Bennett was face down on the ground when a Las Vegas Metro Police officer placed his gun at the back of Mr. Bennett’s head and shouted don’t move or I’ll blow your fucking head off.’ Burris goes on to say: ‘Bennett was in total compliance and scared for his life when a second officer for no apparent reason forcefully dug his knee into Mr. Bennett’s back making it difficult for him to breathe.’ According to Burris, ‘Terrified and frightened, Mr. Bennett continuously asked the Officers why they were arresting him and he tried to remind them that he had rights.’ The Officers ignored Mr. Bennett’s pleas and instead placed him into handcuffs. They cinched the cuffs so tight his fingers went numb. Burris said, ‘Adding insult to injury, the Officers placed Mr. Bennett to a nearby patrol car where they continued to physically manhandle and mistreat him while forcing him into the cramped backseat where he remained handcuffed and stuffed in the patrol car’s backseat for what felt like to him an eternity.’ Burris states that “only after the Officers confirmed that Mr. Bennett was in fact a Super Bowl Champion and star National Football League player did they finally release him from custody.’ . . . ‘It is important to note, Mr. Bennett was unarmed, sober and not involved in any altercations or dispute at the time the police officers arrested and threatened to use deadly force against him.’ Burris went on to say, ‘The Officers’ conduct is particularly outrageous in that there was no basis upon which to select Mr. Bennett from a crowd of people all running for their lives. He did nothing wrong.
One expects this sort of hyperbole from lawyers, but it’s necessary to illuminate several points. Even Bennett’s own statements suggest he was not “in total compliance,” but was running his mouth about his “rights,” which also implies his actions, while not necessarily rising to the level of active and violent resistance, caused the officers to feel he might be going there at any moment. The supposed manhandling and mistreatment Bennett experienced may be nothing more than officers guiding him into the police car. As Legal Insurrection noted, his ordeal lasted only ten minutes. And there does seem to be some basis for the officer’s contact with Bennett. More shortly.
Later in the day, Bennett spoke to reporters and said, ‘People ask why I sit down [during the national anthem] and this is why. This is the things that people go through that look like me.
Right, which is why Bennett has compared himself to several other exemplary individuals:
Bennett references Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Charleena Lyles at the end of his letter — simply feeling fortunate that his situation wasn’t worse.
What happened to him in Las Vegas is exactly what he, Kaepernick, and others are trying to see end in America.
I think, rather, it’s more likely “Kaepernick and others” are trying to divert attention from the juvenile, ungrateful antics that have left Kaepernick unemployed and reduced NFL viewership and game attendance. I do not know Michael Bennett. Prior to this incident, I’d never heard his name. I know nothing about him, other than that he has aligned himself with those who “protest” vague wrongs by refusing to properly honor our flag and national anthem. Based on that alone, I am less than impressed with him. He enjoys income and privileges few in America can ever hope to equal, yet demonstrates his gratitude poorly indeed.
I do know Metro. I will never again set foot in Las Vegas. Anyone coming into contact with Metro officers may well be facing deadly danger, or at the least, arrogantly abusive treatment. Because of my writings on the Scott case, Metro is not in the least fond of me, and they are not the kind of people willing to behave professionally and understand that as public officials, they will inevitably be criticized from time to time. Metro, and those the run Las Vegas, are incredibly corrupt, and that kind of corruption is often deadly.
That said, this case appears to be a very common, unremarkable situation for the police. Officers are often sent into events where everything is ambiguous. In this case, they were reportedly sent to a potential “shots fired” call. It doesn’t matter that there eventually turned out to have been no shots fired. The officers, and Bennett and his companions, at the time believed there were, and there was potentially deadly danger. It was that upon which the officers apparently reasonably, acted, as they must.
Bennett apparently acted in a way that drew the officer’s attention and made them think he might be involved in a shooting. Citizens often forget that officers know things they don’t know, not only the law, but contemporaneous information.
On many occasions in my police career, we were given information about dangerous people, and stopped innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong clothing or driving the wrong kind of car. We took those people down at gunpoint, even handcuffed them and put them in police vehicles, until we could determine they were not the armed robbery/shooting/aggravated assault/etc. suspects we were looking for.
In those cases, as long as the people involved did not resist, or act as though they might be ready to resist at any time, we handled them gently, but we were entirely justified in detaining them, handcuffing them, searching them and putting them in our vehicles until we could determine who they were and what they were doing. If the people we were dealing with gave us attitude or passively/aggressively reacted, we used appropriate force to control them. Such actions normally took no longer than ten minutes, often less, and thereafter, we profusely apologized and explained exactly why we acted as we did.
Did we point our weapons in their direction? Certainly. Did we forcefully say things designed to obtain their compliance? Of course. Did we demonstrate, through the application of reasonable force, we were not kidding? Yes. We did these things not because we wanted to use violence against them, but because we wanted to ensure it wouldn’t be necessary, just in case we had the wrong people. We did exactly what the public hired us to do, and did it professionally.
As much as I mistrust Metro, It seems the officers in this case were justified in their actions, and Bennett was not unreasonably treated. But his hands went numb! That’s not uncommon for large, muscular males. Handcuffs are not meant to be comfy, and he wore them less than ten minutes. But an officer put a knee in his back, and it was hard for him to breathe! From what we know, that too was justified, and Bennett suffered no actual injury, and obviously could breathe. I somehow suspect Bennett has been exposed to far rougher treatment on the football field. Again, I can’t be certain, but the statements of Bennett and his Attorney suggest Bennett was behaving passively/aggressively at the least, perhaps engaging in a bit of “don’t you know who I am,” while playing street lawyer with officers that thought he might be a shooter. Bennet probably didn’t know it, but that’s a very bad idea when dealing with Metro.
But why did they pick on Bennett and not the others running away? The most likely explanation is Bennett was close to them—in the wrong place at the wrong time–and was doing something unusual—as Metro explained—that drew the officer’s attention to him. In any crowd situation, officers can’t detain, or even speak with, everyone. They focus on people that are doing something unusual for the circumstances.
As always, I am relying on media accounts, but for the time being, as generally suspicious of Metro as I have come to be, I see nothing to suggest race was involved in this situation, or that the two Hispanic officers used excessive force, or did anything unreasonable. There is no reason to believe the officers would have behaved any differently regardless of the race of the person they saw behaving unusually and running away.
On the other hand, it is apparently Bennett, and his supporters and fellow travelers, that are using this incident to ennoble themselves as their anti-American antics are beginning to draw considerable backlash. There is no evidence, as yet, that this incident should cause anyone to think poorly of America or to refuse to give appropriate deference to the flag. And even if Bennett were in some way mistreated, there would still be no excuse for that kind of behavior. Even if that were true, America did not abuse Bennett or anyone else; individuals did. America remains the most free, tolerant and altruistic nation on Earth.
Bennett may be able to shake Metro down for a settlement—Metro is used to paying large settlements—and will doubtless play up a racial angle that isn’t there, but unless additional information comes to light, it actually looks like Metro is in the right this time.