Michael Bennett

Cops handcuff, put gun to head of Seahawks' Michael Bennett: 'I'm going to die'

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AP

Cops handcuff, put gun to head of Seahawks' Michael Bennett: 'I'm going to die'

LAS VEGAS -- Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett accused Las Vegas police on Wednesday of racially motivated excessive force, saying he was threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino-hotel.

Bennett said on a Twitter message titled "Dear World," that police "singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police later attributed a report of gunfire at Drai's at the Cromwell resort to the sharp sound of velvet rope stands being knocked to a tile floor. It happened a few hours after the Aug. 26 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.

Bennett, a 6-foot-4 (193 centimeters) defensive end who has been a leader of the national anthem protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, said he was among several hundred people running away.

He said he was handcuffed face-down on the ground after an officer held a gun to his head saying he would blow his head off if he moved.

"All I could think of was 'I'm going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,'" he wrote. He said he thought of his wife and children.

Bennett said he was taken to the back of a police car "until they apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player." He was released without charges.

Las Vegas police Officer Jacinto Rivera said police were checking for casino and police body camera video and written reports. He said the department couldn't immediately verify Bennett's account or identify the officers involved.

"Without looking at video footage or reading any reports we can't say yet what happened," Rivera said.

A video posted by celebrity news site TMZ shows a view from a balcony as a police officer kneels on the back of a man who looks like Bennett. Protests are heard, including, "I wasn't doing nothing," and, "I was here with my friends. They told us to get out and everybody ran."

Bennett's attorney, John Burris in Oakland, California, confirmed the words were Bennett's. The attorney said he believed the 30-second video clip showed some of how his client was treated.

"We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head," Burris told The Associated Press. "He was just in the crowd. He doesn't drink or do drugs. He wasn't in a fight. He wasn't resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd."

Burris said Bennett waited to make public his account of the incident until after Burris contacted Las Vegas police last week by letter and email, seeking police records of Bennett's detention.

Bennett's brother, Martellus Bennett, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, posted an Instagram account of a telephone call he said he got from Michael Bennett. He said he heard fear in his brother's voice.

"The emotion and the thought of almost losing you because of the way you look left me in one of the saddest places ever," Martellus Bennett said.

Michael Bennett has been one of the most outspoken pro athletes on numerous social issues. Last month, he held a benefit for the family of a pregnant black woman who was fatally shot by two white Seattle police officers in June. Police said the woman threatened the officers with at least one knife after calling 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen video-game consoles.

"For me it's always finding a way to impact the community on every single level; locally, nationally, and globally," Bennett said following the benefit. "To be able to have something happen in your city and to be able to build a bridge between people regardless of color, regardless of gender, and regardless of economic hardships, you want to be able to bring people together and be able to do something for kids."

Advocates on Wednesday cited Bennett's treatment by police as an illustration of troubled race relations in America.

Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter advocacy group, called it "a testament to the police violence targeting black people in the United States."

Cullors endorsed an online petition calling for Las Vegas police to release information about what she called an assault on Bennett.

Jocelyn Benson, chief executive of the nonprofit Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, released a statement crediting Bennett with "courage and leadership in addressing issues of racial injustice in our country."

"The revelation of Michael Bennett's terrifying experience with Las Vegas police officers last month underscores the need to continue fighting against racial profiling and inequality," Benson said.

Michael Bennett: DeForest Buckner 'not normal; when you're not normal...'

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AP

Michael Bennett: DeForest Buckner 'not normal; when you're not normal...'

49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner grew up in Hawaii.

And he's currently training in his home state with teammate Arik Armstead and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.

“I think DeForest, I’m lucky to be working with a guy like that.” Bennett recently told Sam Spangler of KHON2. "I think DeForest will eventually be a defensive player of the year. I think he has the talent to be able to do that.

"I keep telling him there’s nobody like him. He’s not normal."

That's some pretty high praise from a guy who reached the Pro Bowl each of the last two years.

After four years at Oregon, the 49ers took Buckner with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft.

He made 15 starts as a rookie and racked up 73 tackles, six sacks and two fumble recoveries.

He was honored with a spot on the NFL's All-Rookie team in a vote of the Pro Football Writers of America.

"His physique, his speed, it’s not normal," Bennett said. "So when you’re not normal you can do not normal things and winning the defensive MVP is not normal for most people.”

Seahawks DE: Seattle would be 'perfect place' for Kaepernick

Seahawks DE: Seattle would be 'perfect place' for Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick hasn't received much interest from teams this offseason, but the NFC West rival Seahawks have emerged as a possible landing spot.

Last week, NFL Network reported that Seahawks GM John Schneider reached out to Kaepernick's agents.

On Monday, head coach Carroll went on local Seattle radio station and alluded to the team considering Kaepernick among other quarterback options.

The possible pairing of Kaepernick and Seahawks got a vote of confidence from Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett on Tuesday.

“I think a person that’s dedicating their life to creating change, why wouldn’t you want that type of leadership in your locker room? Why wouldn’t you want a young person that’s dealt with people wanting to kill him because of his choices in life? So I don’t know why people feel like that is a problem," Bennett said on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Bennett went on to cite Carroll and starting quarterback Russell Wilson as reason for the fit being good.

“I think that Kaepernick getting the opportunity to be on our team would be really cool, would really be a good place for him because you have a coach like coach [Pete] Carroll who is up for challenges like that. You have an owner who spends and gives back to the homeless. You’ve got players on your team that give back in the community. You’ve got Russell Wilson who shows that our team is built around community. So this is a perfect place for him,” Bennett said.

If Kaepernick were to sign with the 49ers, he would compete with Treyvon Boykin to be Wilson's backup.