On Friday, Las Vegas police released an edited video of the events surrounding the August 27 detention of Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett. On Saturday, Bennett’s lawyer addressed the contents of the video.
Attorney John Burris told PFT by phone that the video does not “disprove or contradict” Bennett’s allegation that he was improperly stopped and detained, subjected to excessive force, and/or racially profiled.
As Burris explained it, the “most important piece of evidence” has not been (and never will be) provided, because the detaining officer did not activate his body camera. As a result, there is no way to confirm or debunk the contention from Bennett that the officer put a gun near Bennett’s head and threatened to, as Bennett contends, “blow [his] f–king head off,” from either the video or audio that the body camera would have captured.
Burris added that he expects to get the full, unedited video this week from the various cameras that generated the edited video that police unveiled Friday. Burris said that the full, unedited video had previously been requested, describing a claim made during Friday’s press conference by police department officials that Bennett’s representatives hadn’t asked for the raw video as “disingenuous.”
As to the incident itself, Burris said the edited video shows Bennett “running with purpose” after he heard shots fired inside a casino, and that the video shows nothing that would give the police an objective basis for detaining him. As to Bennett’s belief that he was racially profiled, Burris argued that the race of the detaining officer is irrelevant because police officers potentially have implicit bias in their assessment of who is and isn’t a threat. Even if, for example, the detaining officer is African-American, the officer’s training coupled with stereotypes perpetuated among colleagues and superiors can result, according to Burris, in a police officer (regardless of race) viewing identical conduct of an African-American and a white person differently.
Burris said that his investigation of the incident will continue, and that he has not ruled out the filing of a lawsuit on Bennett’s behalf. The key questions are whether police properly detained Bennett, whether police subjected him to excessive force, and whether police racially profiled him. For now, the only thing known with certainty is that the key piece of evidence that would prove or disprove Bennett’s claims never was created.