Last March, Michael Bennett was indicted seemingly out of nowhere, on a felony charge of injury to the elderly. At an utterly bizarre press conference the next day, Houston’s chief of police called Bennett “morally bankrupt” and “morally corrupt,” and alleged that Bennett had shoved a 66-year-old paraplegic security guard at Super Bowl 51 in February 2017, as he tried to get onto the field to celebrate with his brother Martellus. Well, the charge against Bennett, now with the Patriots, has been dropped.
“We dismissed this case in the interest of justice,” Harris County (Texas) District Attorney’s Office chief of staff Vivian King said in a statement. “After looking at all the evidence, this was the right thing to do.”
The timing of the case always stunk to high heavens. Houston police revealed they didn’t start investigating the case until September 2017, seven months after the alleged incident. Earlier that same month, Bennett had gone public with claims of police brutality in Las Vegas.
I’m not saying that one had anything to do with the other, or that cops and prosecutors can be petty tyrants who would in a heartbeat try to make life miserable for someone as payback for speaking up about police brutality. I’m certainly not saying that Bennett’s lifelong outspokenness against racial injustice and judicial discrimination, nor his role as one of the most visible NFL players in the then-controversial protests during the National Anthem, would make cops so steaming mad that they’d gin up some bullshit charges against him. I’m definitely not saying that the timing of the indictment—days before the release of his book, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable—was similarly timed for reasons beyond the normal operation of the judicial system. I would never say that.
I’m just saying it was maybe a little strange that the police didn’t bother talking to Bennett the night of the alleged crime, when he was actually there, in Houston, in the building. And that it’s slightly odd that while there was surveillance video showing Bennett walking toward the field, there was apparently no video of the incident itself, which again, happened at the Super Bowl. And that the police chief is a real piece of work.
More than a year ago, Bennett’s lawyer promised, “I’m going to say this with a smile and total confidence: they are going to change their mind.”
From the DA’s statement today:
“After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There was probable cause to warrant a charge initially, but after a careful review of all the pre-charge and post-charge evidence, we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”