Benson charged; released on bail

AUSTIN, Texas -- Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson was arrested Tuesday and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a bar employee in the face nearly a month ago.

Benson was booked into the Travis County Jail, where he later posted $5,000 bail and was released. The charge of assault with injury carries a maximum potential penalty of up to $4,000 in fines and up to a year in jail.

According to the Austin police arrest affidavit, Benson was at Annie's West bar in the Sixth Street entertainment district on May 30 when he got into an altercation with another, unknown bar patron that left him spitting blood from a cut lip. After staff intervened, witnesses told police Benson shoved a bar worker and was verbally abusive. After being asked to leave, Benson was escorted to the door.

"As they took him outside, he continued to push and shove," Senior Police Officer Veneza Aguinaga said.

Bartender Bryan White told police that once outside, Benson complained to people passing by that "all these white boys are ganging up on me and kicking me out."

White said he told Benson he wouldn't take time out of his night just to kick him out, then Benson punched him in the face.

One of Benson's attorneys, Sam Bassett, said his client "looks forward to telling his side of the story at the appropriate time."

"Though he does not entirely agree with the version of facts recited in the court filings," Bassett said, "he does not wish to make his comments public at this time."

"Mr. Benson has always been willing to cooperate with the Austin Police Department to tell his version of what happened so long as he could have a lawyer present," he said. "The Austin Police Department decided to go forward with obtaining a warrant without obtaining Mr. Benson's side of the story."

Attorney David Cornwell, who also has been hired by Benson, explained Benson's side of the incident in a statement released later Tuesday and said his client has been in contact with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and the NFL.

"Though we adamantly dispute that Cedric committed a crime, Cedric will continue to cooperate with law enforcement, the Bengals and the NFL in their investigation of these events," Cornwell said.

Aguinaga said police interviewed witnesses and reviewed video from surveillance cameras that caught the incident. Detectives invited Benson to speak with them last week but he didn't show up for a scheduled meeting, she said.

Police then obtained a warrant and Benson was arrested without incident at a private home shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday. Aguinaga said she didn't know if it was Benson's home.

Bengals spokesman P.J. Combs said the team was aware of the incident but said it was "inappropriate for us to comment until the matter is resolved through legal channels."

The arrest is just the latest brush with the law for Benson and could draw a suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"We are looking into it," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who said the league would not have further comment.

In 2008, Benson was arrested twice in a month on alcohol charges that were later dropped. While in college at the University of Texas, he was suspended for a game and pleaded no contest to a charge of criminal trespassing for forcing his way into an apartment to find a television he said was stolen from him.

Drafted in the first round by the Bears in 2005, Benson's legal troubles and poor results on the field prompted Chicago to cut him in 2008. He signed as a free agent with the Bengals and led the team with a career-high 1,251 yards and six touchdowns in 2009.

Messages left with the Bengals were not immediately returned.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.