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Black NFL player's run-in with Las Vegas police

September 6, 2017

The Seattle Seahawks linebacker Michael Bennett has said two Las Vegas officers handcuffed him and threatened to kill him after a major boxing match. He said he was "a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

USA NFL Football Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/T. S. Warren

In a post on his Twitter account, American football player Michael Bennett described his violent treatment by Las Vegas police officers as he was heading back to his hotel after watching boxerFloyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena just outside the city on August 26.

"After the fight while heading back to the hotel several hundred people heard what sounded like gun shots. Like many of the people in the area, I ran away from the sound looking for safety," Bennett, 31, said in the introduction of his post.

The pro athlete, who won the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, then said that he had an experience that is commonplace for many young African American men in the United States.

"Las Vegas police officers 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."

American celebrity news outlet TMZ published a video of the incident showing Bennett lying on the ground as the officers handcuffed him. Bennett also claimed that one officer pointed a gun near his head and told him not to move or the officer would "blow his f---ing head off."

The linebacker said the officers eventually realized who he was and let him go "without any legitimate justification for the officers' abusive conduct."

"The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Charleena Lyles felt," Bennett wrote, referring to renowned cases of African Americans killed by police officers.

Bennett said he had retained John Burris, an Oakland Civil Rights Attorney, to "explore all my legal options."

Protesting the national anthem

Many football players in the National Football League (NFL) have chosen not to stand during renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" – the American national anthem which is sung before most professional sports games in the US – in protest of police brutality and racial profiling. Bennett regularly takes part in such protests, which have drawn strong criticism from some quarters.

Colin Kaepernick nealing during the national anthem
Colin Kaepernick (right) started the knealing protest during the national anthemImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. J. Sanchez

"I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply the right thing to do. This fact is unequivocally, without question why before every game, I sit during the national anthem," he wrote. "Equality doesn't live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a 'N-----,' you will be treated that way."

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, started the national anthem protest during the 2016 preseason.