Metro Police Respond To Michael Bennett's Accusations
The confrontation between NFL football player Michael Bennett and officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shined a light on Metro a few weeks ago, but not in a good way.
Bennett has alleged he was singled out because of his race. Metro strongly denied that.
Deputy Chief Charles Hank told KNPR's State of Nevada that the department "has nothing to hide."
Hank pointed out that officers were called to the Cromwell hotel-casino on the night of the Mayweather-McGregor on reports of an active shooter. He said officers were concerned they might be walking into an incident like the deadly shoot at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
He also said that Bennett was running out while everyone else was "down." Police also say that Bennett jumped over a concrete barrier and onto the road that was several feet below.
"As the officers are going through that casino... they observed a male jump up and start running and I believe - I'm not certain of this and that's why there is still an investigation - that was suspicious activity." Hank said, "We see that and with everybody else being down. The thought that shots had been fired. We're looking for that threat. We have not located that threat. And then to have someone moving, that's what we call reasonable suspicion."
Hank also defends against the idea that Bennett was profiled by officers because he's black. Hank noted that most of the people at the club were African American.
"You can't say [he] was singled out when the majority of the folks there were of that race," he said.
Another key part of Bennett's complaint is that officers used excessive force and put a gun to his head. In the statement, he released on Twitter Bennett said:
"A police officer ordered me to get on the ground. As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands not to move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would 'blow my [f******] head off.'"
Hank said whether the officers involved used a gun is still under investigation, but he defended the officer's use of a gun under those circumstances.
"In that situation, we were called upon for what is characterized as an active shooter... with an active shooter you have someone who has made a decision to go in... and cause harm and cause mass casualties," he said.
Hank said since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where officers were heavily criticized for not going into the school to stop the active shooters, police departments have used active shooter protocols that direct a group of officers to go into that situation and stop the threat.
The deputy chief said Sheriff Joe Lombardo wants a full investigation of the incident and that investigation should be finished soon.
Screenshot from video released by Metro Police/Courtesy LVMPD
Charles Hank, deputy chief, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept.