A Superstar Detained
By now, we’ve all seen video of Seattle Seahawks star, Michael Bennett, running from a shooter at a Las Vegas casino. Opinions generally fall into one of two camps. The first is that Bennett shouldn’t have run from police, and the other is that when someone might be shooting at you, instinct takes over and you run.
On August 27, 2017, a gunman opened fire at a Vegas nightclub. Michael Bennett heard the gunshots and immediately ran out of the club for his own safety.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Bennett as he ran for cover during the shooting. The officer drew his weapon, pointed it at Bennett and ordered the NFL player to the ground. Another officer pinned Bennet to the ground with his knee while forcefully handcuffing him.
Bennett remained calm, which is remarkable considering the situation. He referred to the officer as “sir” and continued to ask the officer what he had done and why he was being detained. There were hundreds of people running from the club and fleeing the scene, but it appears that the muscular, black athlete was the only individual detained by officers.
What Reasonable Suspicion?
According to reports, the police did not have a description of the shooter at the time, so it appears Bennett was detained for no other reason than being a large black man. Those on the other side point to officer training in identifying suspicious persons. It’s not yet clear why police targeted Bennet.
This incident raises many questions. Was the officer justified in his use of force? There was no description of the shooter, so why did officers detain Michael Bennett? Did officers arrest anyone else running from the club?
Unfortunately, we may never get the proper answers to these questions. The officers who detained Bennett wore body cameras, which would have been helpful. Unfortunately, they apparently disabled their body cameras, so there is no video of the event.
Know Your Rights
You have rights if the police detain you:
- You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, SAY SO OUT LOUD
- You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or your home
- If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave
- You have the right to a lawyer. Ask for an attorney as soon as possible, and do not speak to police without an attorney
- Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights
Here’s what to do when police stop you:
- Stay calm and be polite
- Do not interfere with or obstruct the police officer(s)
- Do not lie or give false statements or documents
- Remember the details of your encounter with the officer