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Police: We acted 'appropriately' in Bennett incident

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. Sheriff Joe Lombardo says police "acted appropriately and professionally" when they detained Seahawks star Michael Bennett during an incident at a Las Vegas casino in August.

Speaking during a news conference Friday, Lombardo said his officers had reasonable suspicion to detain Bennett after he ran from officers investigating a reported shooting in a casino. He also denied Bennett's allegation that police were racially motivated in singling him out to be detained.

"There is no evidence that would show that to be true," Lombardo said. "...the incident was not about race."

Bennett's lawyer, John Burris, told NFL.com the videos do not explain why police determined Bennett looked suspicious enough to detain.

"The videos do not disprove anything that Michael Bennett said happened," said Burris, who confirmed Bennett filed a formal complaint with Las Vegas police this week. "The police didn't set forth objective facts to support why they stopped him."

Lombardo showed reporters police body camera footage of Bennett after he was handcuffed and as he was being put into a police vehicle. In the videos, Bennett repeatedly says he did not do anything wrong.

Police reviewed 193 "pertinent" videos of the incident, Lombardo said. The officer who handcuffed Bennett, however, did not have his body camera on at the time of the incident.

Of the evidence collected, Lombardo said none of it corroborates Bennett's claim that officers told him they would blow his "[expletive] head off" as they detained him.

"From the evidence we have at this point, we don't know [if the officer] said that," Lombardo said.

Lombardo said Bennett's total detainment lasted approximately 10 minutes -- with seven minutes being spent handcuffed in the back of the car. Lombardo said police had reasonable suspicion to detain Bennett after he ran away from them during what they thought was a shooting in progress. Officers later determined no shooting occurred at the casino.

"I want to say that I understand that being detained for a suspected felony is not a pleasant experience," Lombardo said. "But having said that, the officers that responded that night were heroic."

Lombardo added that barring the discovery of new evidence related to the incident, his department's investigation is "basically finished." He said police have yet to determine whether any department policies were violated.

Bennett was never arrested or charged in the incident.

Last month, Bennett described the incident as a "traumatic experience for me and my family."

"It sucks that the country we live in now sometimes you get profiled for the color of your skin," Bennett said. "It's a tough situation for me. Do I think every police officer is bad? No. I don't believe that. Do I believe that there's some people out there that are judging people on the color of their skin? I do believe that. I'm just focused on trying to push forward and keep continuously ... the quest for justice for people. Keep pushing the quality for oppressed people."

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