Allegations of racism have erupted over the indictment Friday of NFL star Michael Bennett, even though he’s being prosecuted by a liberal, Soros-backed district attorney for a crime against a black victim.
Progressive activists and commentators weighed in after the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end was indicted by a grand jury on a felony count of injuring a 66-year-old disabled black woman last year at Super Bowl LI, calling the charge “bogus,” “BS,” and a “set up.”
Columnist Shaun King said Mr. Bennett was charged because he “touched a woman’s shoulder,” although Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the paraplegic woman, part of the stadium security team, suffered a sprained shoulder after Bennett shoved her as he tried to get onto the field after the game.
According to the chief, Mr. Bennett told a police officer at the scene, “F— you” and “You all must know who I am, and I could own this motherf—er. I’m going onto the field whether you like it or not.”
His defenders argued that the 32-year-old Philadelphia Eagles player was targeted as a result of his race and his social-justice activism. Mr. Bennett has refused to stand for the national anthem and last year accused Las Vegas police of racial profiling after he was briefly detained.
At the same time, Mr. Bennett could have hardly drawn a prosecutor more sympathetic to the rights of defendants than Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
She ran in 2016 on a reform platform that called for reducing incarcerations, aided by a half-million dollar ad buy from Democratic megadonor George Soros via his Texas Safety and Justice PAC as part of his national effort to elect progressive prosecutors.
Ms. Ogg has since been accused of being soft on crime by seeking alternatives to prison such as deferred adjudication, including in a case last year in which a man shot at deputies but received no jail time, which she attributed to his mental-health issues, according to ABC13 in Houston.
The county’s first openly lesbian D.A., Ms. Ogg fired 37 experienced prosecutors shortly after taking office and replaced them with “a far more diverse group of experienced and talented lawyers,” she told the Texas Observer.
“I also am trying to diversify our lower ranks because we need prosecutors who the public can relate to,” said Ms. Ogg in the July 26 interview. “If they’re all Caucasian, and they’re all straight out of law school, they’re just not going to have the life experience that I think is important when you have people’s lives in your hands, like we do.”
She released a statement Friday saying that Mr. Bennett was told by security staff to use a different entrance as he tried to gain access to the field for the post-game celebration at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“Instead, he pushed through them, including the elderly woman who was part of the security team,” said the DA’s statement.
The charge of “intentionally and knowingly” causing “bodily injury to a person 65 years or older” carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Critics have pointed out that the incident occurred over a year ago — Feb. 5, 2017 — and that there is no video of the episode, meaning that prosecutors are relying on witness accounts.
Chief Acevedo attributed the lag time to the department’s decision to prioritize more serious cases, adding that “we knew where to find him,” given his high profile as a star player.
“He may have thought that, number one, the rules don’t apply to him, number two, he doesn’t have to respect the dignity of a paraplegic women who’s trying earn a living … but I’m here to say I’m very proud of the fact our department took this case seriously as it should have,” said Chief Acevedo.
He said the woman received medical treatment afterward. “You can imagine being a 66-year-old paraplegic woman and some big guy just knocks you on your butt because he wants to get on the field. I’m sorry, that’s not the way it works,” said the chief.
A warrant has been issued for Mr. Bennett’s arrest. The department has been in communication with an attorney regarding his surrender.
Mr. Bennett accused Las Vegas police of threatening to kill him after they briefly detained him in September as they sought an active shooter, although the department later concluded that the three officers — two Hispanic and one black — acted professionally.
A former Seattle Seahawks player who signed earlier this month with the Eagles, Mr. Bennett led the cohort of Seattle players who sat on the sidelines throughout the 2017 regular season during the national anthem in a protest against racism and social injustice.
He had attended Super Bowl LI to watch his brother, New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, whose team defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.
“Michael Bennett who has been very vocal about cops and racial injustice gets randomly hit with a felony for trying to get on the field to celebrate with his brother at the Super Bowl in TEXAS. Math adding up to a set up,” tweeted BlackSportsOnline’s Robert Littal.