The NFL said Thursday that it has no plans to investigate Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett's behavior during an incident in which he was detained and handcuffed by police in Las Vegas two weeks ago.
The league was responding to a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell from the president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union that represents the police in that city. In the letter, the union alleged that Bennett made false accusations against Las Vegas police and asked the league to "conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in response, "There is no allegation of a violation of the league's personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation."
Earlier, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith voiced a similar response, saying, "There are no grounds for the NFL to investigate our union rep, and I look forward to Roger confirming the same."
Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, wrote the letter to Goodell on Thursday and made it available to media. He said, in part, "While the NFL may condone Bennett's disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett's false accusations against our police officers."
Bennett sat on the bench during the national anthem for a Seahawks preseason game on Aug. 13 and said at the time, "I can't stand right now. I'm not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom."
John Burris, an Oakland attorney who is representing Bennett in the Las Vegas incident, said that the union's questioning of Bennett's integrity is "outrageous," especially given the department has just begun its investigation of the incident. "To suggest he is lying without having conducted an investigation is ridiculous," Burris told the Seattle Times.
On Wednesday, Bennett accused Las Vegas police officers of racial profiling, saying they pointed guns at him and used excessive force during the incident.
"It sucks that in the country that we live in now, sometimes you get profiled for the color of your skin," Bennett said Wednesday. "It's a tough situation for me. Do I think every police officer is bad? No, I don't believe that. Do I believe there's some people out there that judge people on the color of their skin? I do believe that."
The incident occurred in the early morning hours on Aug. 27, after the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas, when police apprehended Bennett after hearing what sounded like gunshots in a crowded area. Bennett wrote on Twitter that officers pointed guns at him "for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time" and ordered him to lie down on the ground.
Bennett wrote that one officer, with his gun drawn, warned him that he would "blow my f---ing head off" if he moved. Another officer jammed his knee into Bennett's back and handcuffed him, according to Bennett.
"The Officers' excessive use of force was unbearable," Bennett wrote. "I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed. All I could think of was 'I'm going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat.'"
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said Wednesday that his department has launched an internal investigation into the events of that night.
McMahill said he had found "no evidence that race played any role in this incident."
McMahill said that officers were investigating what they thought was an active shooter in a nightclub. As people ran from a club, an officer spotted Bennett crouched by some machines. McMahill said that when the officer spotted Bennett, Bennett took off running out of the club, and officers pursued him before taking him down and putting him in cuffs.
Later, when asked why Bennett had been singled out, McMahill said he did not know but that he hoped the investigation would clarify that.
Wednesday night, Goodell issued a statement in support of Bennett, saying he "represents the best of the NFL -- a leader on his team and in his community."
"Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family," Goodell said in his statement. "While we understand the Las Vegas police department will address this later this evening, the issues Michael has been raising deserve serious attention from all of our leaders in every community. We will support Michael and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law."