Las Vegas police explain Michael Bennett incident, deny claim of racial profiling

Just hours after Michael Bennett made several startling claims against Las Vegas police, the department strongly defended itself by describing their version of events during a press conference on Wednesday. 

According to Bennett, he was assaulted by police after attending the Mayweather-McGregor fight on August 26. At some point after the fight, Bennett was walking back to his hotel when he heard gunshots. The shots were heard by hundreds of people, who all began to flee the area. 

Once police were on the scene, Bennett says that they "singled" him out and pointed their guns at him for "nothing more than being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Bennett also added that the officers used excessive force while he was in custody, and that one cop even threatened to "blow his head off."

Kevin McMahill, the Undersheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, gave the LVMPD's version of events during the department's press conference, and says that he didn't believe there was any racial profiling involved in the Bennett incident.  

"I can tell you as I stand here today, I see no evidence of that," McMahill said. "I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident."

According to McMahill, police received a call around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday about a possible active shooter who was believed to be somewhere around Drai's nightclub at the Cromwell casino. 

When officers arrived at the hotel, it was total chaos as hundreds of people were attempting to flee the supposed shooter (the Daily Mail has a picture that was taken as people were fleeing and you can see that by clicking here). 

After clearing the casino, a team of officer's started heading toward Drai's nightclub, and while they were on the way there, they located Bennett. 

"As they moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached," McMahill sald. "Once Bennett was in the officer's view, he quickly ran out the south doors, jumped over a wall onto Flamingo Road East of Las Vegas Boulevard into traffic."

According to McMahill, the officers viewed Bennett's actions as suspicious, which is why he was handcuffed. 

"Due to Bennett's actions, and the information the officer's had at the time, they believed that Bennett may have been involved in the shooting and they gave chase," McMahill said. "Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the incident."

In his statement, Bennett said his time in custody felt like an "eternity" due to the brutal way that the officers treated him.  

McMahill said the Seahawks defensive end was in custody for 10 minutes.   

"He was detained for approximately 10 minutes and released," McMahill said. 

McMahill also added that Bennett told the officers that he "understood" why the situation happened after Vegas police explained it to him. 

"Mr. Bennett, at the scene, had the incident explained to him by a supervisor and he said that he understood and that he had no problem with what the officers did," McMahill said. 

However, McMahill did go on to say that Bennett did actually mention having an issue with one of the cops.

"He claimed the officer pointed a gun at his head," McMahill said. 

McMahill didn't deny Bennett's claim that an officer said he wanted to blow the NFL player's "head off." 

"That's part of what we have to investigate," McMahill said. 

McMahill showed a five-minute video that was taken by a police body camera on the night of the incident, and the end of the video appears to show an officer holding something up to Bennett's head. 

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Michael Bennett was taken to the ground by Las Vegas police.  LVMPD

Basically, the LVMPD's version of events is that they got a call of shots fired at a casino. They didn't know exactly what the shooter looked like, so they looked for any suspicious people and Bennett qualified because he allegedly attempted to flee after noticing a group of officers. 

The exact truth about what happened probably won't come out for another few days, but there's a good chance that it will come out at some point because Vegas has more security cameras than pretty much every other city in the world. 

According to McMahill, the LVMPD will have to sift through hours of video footage before they get to the bottom of what happened.  

"We learned of Mr. Bennett's allegations just this morning and an internal investigation has been opened," McMahill said. "Part of that investigation includes pulling footage from dozens of body cameras. As of today, we know there are at least 126 videos associated with those cameras that we have to review. As you can imagine, it takes a significant amount of effort and time to review all the video and available evidence. If the investigation reveals that any polices or training was violated, those officers will be held accountable."

One thing that McMahill did note is that the officer accused of threatening Bennett either didn't have a body camera, or he had it and it wasn't on. McMahill also noted that he didn't believe this was a case of racial profiling because the two officers who handcuffed Bennett were both male Hispanics. 

One other thing that should be noted is that there's no video of Bennett fleeing. The lone video shown at the press conference only showed Bennett when he was already on the ground. With 126 pieces of video out there, a more accurate version of events should eventually come out. 

To see video from the night of the incident, you can scroll to the 6:50 mark below. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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