RENTON — Michael Bennett knows everyone has an opinion about his claims of excessive force and mistreatment by a Las Vegas police officer.
“As I was laid on the ground, complying with his commands to not move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I move he would ‘blow my (expletive deleted) head off,’” Bennett wrote in an open letter last month weeks after an officer apprehended and briefly detained him outside a casino in August.
Bennett has said he’s considering a civil-rights lawsuit over the incident that happened while police thought there was an active shooter inside the casino.
The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end also knows some people across the United States believe he is lying.
“No, I don’t respond to them, because nobody can be in my position,” Bennett said Thursday.
“Obviously, at the end of the thing (the video the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has released) I’m talking to the other officers, the officers who didn’t, who weren’t a part of it. I got taken to another officer, and that’s who I ended up talking to in the end.
“I don’t hate anybody. I don’t have a problem with any police officers, just what happened to me in a certain situation.
“But, like I said, people are entitled to their position and what they believe in, no matter what happened. So at the end of the day there are going to be people who believe me and people who don’t believe me. And my ultimate goal is not to make everybody believe me, or make everybody happy. It’s just about me being able to sleep at night and continuously speak upon what happened to me, personally.”
Bennett says it doesn’t bother him that people say he wasn’t mistreated.
“No, that doesn’t bother me, at all,” he said. “I can’t really worry about what people say, because there is a certain part of people who are not going to believe you, regardless of what you do. For me, it’s to continuously state my position and keep doing what I do.”
Bennett says he has not seen the body-camera video the Las Vegas police have released.
“I was there,” he said. “So I don’t need to see the video.”
Here’s the thing for those who insist Bennett is lying: We don’t know.
There has not been a definitive video released publicly of the moment Bennett was detained. Such footage would show exactly how he was apprehended. That moment is the crux of Bennett’s issue. The evidence presented so far has been inconclusive as to what actually happened and how Bennett was treated when he was detained.
Complicating this and making it more sensitive, is the massacre that killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 on Oct. 1 at concert site in Las Vegas. The same Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department immediately responded to the shooter and the victims and continues to investigate.
Thursday was the first time Bennett has spoken about his incident in Las Vegas since the mass shooting there. He did so responding to questions about it during his weekly press conference at team headquarters, before practice for Sunday’s home game against the Houston Texans.
Bennett was also asked why he sits during national anthems to protest mistreatment of minorities and the need for police reform in our country, instead of perhaps kneeling. When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began this social-justice movement among NFL players last year he eventually did so by kneeling.
Kaepernick initially sat during anthems, in the preseason of 2016. Then he met with Nate Boyer, a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret war veteran and a Seahawks undrafted long-snapper last year. After listening to Boyer and considering military servicemen and women, Kaepernick began kneeling in protest instead.
Bennett said there’s “no significance” to him sitting instead of kneeling.
“Just doing something to sit down. No significance,” Bennett said. “No bigger message or less message than his. It’s the same thing.
“I know him and Nate had a little conversation. Obviously, Nate was on our team so I know he’s a really good guy.
“So, nothing different.”
Bennett, the son of a U.S. Navy enlisted man, is going to be wearing custom cleats for Seattle’s Nov. 26 game at San Francisco that represent American prisoners of war and those missing in action. That will be part of the NFL’s second annual “My Cleats, My Cause” campaign in week 13 of this season.
“Actually, I was watching this thing on PBS about the Vietnam War, just about POWs and people missing in action,” Bennett said. “I just wanted to be able to bring the awareness, because a lot of people don’t even know how many people are missing in action from wars, people who sacrificed for our country, that you never hear a story about.
“So I want to be able to bring awareness to that, too.”
Thomas misses practice
Earl Thomas missed a second consecutive practice. The team’s official report said is a knee injury, the same listing he’s had for a month without missing a game.
Defensive coordinator Kris Richard isn’t thinking his three-time All-Pro safety will miss Sunday’s game, either. The Texans’ offense with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has been averaging 39 points this month.
“No. No. That’s E.T.” Richard said. “He’s going to be ready to roll.”
Thomas hasn’t practiced on a Wednesday or Thursday since Sept. 20 and 21. His been listed as missing practices with the same knee ailment before the Oct. 8 game at the Rams. Then Seattle had its bye. Last week, Thomas said he was away to tend to a personal matter following Sunday’s win at the New York Giants, and that all was now well there.
Dwight Freeney, the three-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl pass rusher who signed Wednesday, is reportedly getting a bonus of $8,000 per game for which he is active. That’s on top of the prorated amount of the veteran minimum salary, which is $1 million for players with 10 or more years’ experience.
That proration over the final 10 games of the regular season means the Seahawks will be paying Freeney $668,235.