New Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett has been indicted on a felony charge of injury of the elderly after allegedly shoving a 66-year-old paraplegic woman at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, in 2017.
The Eagles acquired Bennett this month as part of a trade with Seattle.
The charge entails “intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older” and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information,” the Eagles said in a statement Friday. “Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.”
According to a release from Harris County (Texas) District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Harris County Grand Jury indicted Bennett Friday as the result of an alleged incident that occurred Feb, 5, 2017, at Houston’s NRG Stadium. Bennett was there to watch his brother,Martellus Bennett, then a tight end with the New England Patriots, play against Atlanta.
The release stated the alleged victim was working for NRG’s security personnel and was among those who told Bennett he had to use a different entrance to access the field after the Patriots’ come-from-behind victory.
Instead of choosing a different access point, however, Michael Bennett allegedly shoved his way past the security to get to the field, injuring the elderly woman in the process.
“(Bennett) forceably opened locked doors in an attempt to force his way onto the field,” Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo said during a live-streamed news conference Friday. “He pushed back a 28-year-old white female, another male individual and a 66-year-old black female of NRG (Stadium), injuring her shoulder.
“After pushing them, he stated, ‘Ya’ll must know who I am. I can own these (expletive), and I’m going on the field whether you like it or not.”
Acevedo said a police officer saw the incident and attempted to stop and interview Bennett, who allegedly replied, “(Bleep) you” and walked past him onto the field. The officer let him go, opting to tend to the security personnel.
A detective explained that the paraplegic woman was in a heavy motorized wheel chair that weighs approximately 800 pounds. She was not knocked out of the chair but sustained an injury to her shoulder that required medical treatment.
Acevedo said there is no video of the alleged incident but that it was witnessed by the police officer and some members of the security staff.
“It’s very offensive to me that a man that is supposed to be an example, a professional athlete, would think that it’s OK to treat people like this,” he said “It’s very telling of his character. How about treating people with a little dignity? How about not putting your hands on an elderly paraplegic? You’re morally bankrupt when you put your hands on a little old lady.
“There is no excuse for that. None. We believe he might have been drinking that day, but intoxication is not a defense.”
Bennett, who grew up in the Houston area, is recognized as one of the NFL’s most outspoken players on social injustice and is involved in various charities.
Before last season, while with the Seahawks, he pledged to donate all of his endorsement money from the season to charities focused on helping minority communities. He also donated 50 percent of his jersey sales income to urban garden projects.
“I was inspired by Chance the Rapper to ‘think bigger’ when he pledged one million dollars to Chicago kids and their school system,” Bennett told ESPN in a statement in September. “So, I’ll be joining him by investing in the future of our youth. The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids.”
A month earlier, he had been detained by Las Vegas police while attending the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight. Bennett accused the officers of racial profiling and use of excessive force.
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