ORLANDO, Fla. — Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett is out on bond after being charged for a crime his attorney adamantly says Bennett didn’t commit.
Not long before Howie Roseman was being peppered with questions at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando in Central Florida, Bennett was in a courtroom in Houston. He’s facing a felony charge for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic woman last Feb. 5 after Super Bowl LI.
“He just didn’t do it,” Bennett’s attorney Rusty Hardin said by phone to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Monday evening.
“I strongly feel that way and not just because it’s totally inconsistent with his whole history and not just because he says he didn’t. I’ve talked to other witnesses. We’ve talked to other witnesses who also didn’t see anything.”
Bennett, 32, was released on bond Monday and plans on heading back to his home in Hawaii. His next court appearance is on April 23 at 1 p.m. Hardin said that appearance will be for the prosecution and defense to exchange information.
Hardin said he’ll be happy to give them as much as he can.
“I’m just comfortable that it’s not him,” Hardin said. “And it’s not one of these things that it’s my client and he didn’t do it. I’m just convinced this guy didn’t do it. I told the DA’s office I would try to get them everything I can to show you, you have the wrong person.”
Hardin explained that on the evening of Feb. 5, 2017, after the Patriots beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, a group of families of Patriots players entered the field together after sitting together during the game. He said there were 25-30 people and Bennett wasn’t even the first one to get on the field through the gate. Bennett is being charged for injuring the elderly disabled woman, who was working at field level. Hardin claims at one point, Bennett was even escorted by police toward the celebration on the field.
Last Friday, Houston police chief Art Acevedo called Bennett “morally bankrupt” and surmised that Bennett thinks he’s entitled because he’s a professional athlete.
“Man, you were over the top,” Hardin said about Acevedo. “You don’t know any more about it than I do. To call the guy morally bankrupt, see the chief doesn’t know anything about this guy. I suspect people think they know this guy, but this is one of the nicest guys.”
Earlier in the day, Roseman indicated the Eagles are going to stand by Bennett as more facts are sorted out (see story). Hardin agreed with the assessment the Eagles initially had of Bennett, that he was a well-liked teammate and a good person.
Hardin said, as he understands it, someone might have told the woman it was Bennett who pushed her and that’s how this all began. But there is no video of the alleged incident, according to Houston police. Based on Bennett’s background, his charitable work and his mother’s work with special needs children, Hardin can’t imagine the allegations are true.
“Whatever happened to this lady, it wasn’t done by Michael,” Hardin said. “She might have asked for names and maybe someone said it was Michael, but he didn’t do anything.”