Houston Prosecutors Drop Assault Charges Against NFL Player Michael Bennett
|thenorthstar||Apr 5, 2019|
Texas prosecutors on Wednesday announced the dismissal of a felony charge against New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett, who was indicted by a grand jury in March 2018 for pushing the arm of a 66-year-old paraplegic security guard when the player tried to get onto the field during Houston’s 2017 Super Bowl.
The Harris County district attorney’s office noted that the decision was made after a thorough review which included watching a video in which Bennett —then a spectator of the final game — can be seen entering the field to greet his brother, Martellus Bennett, who played tight end for the Patriots at the time. The elderly guard was in a wheelchair when Bennett pushed her arm while trying to come through the crowd. “After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Vivian King, the DA’s chief of staff, according to a statement. “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.”
Bennett and his legal team argued that the guard’s claims had no merit. The former Seattle Seahawks player pleaded not guilty to a single felony charge of injury to the elderly, which has a maximum of 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000. The guard’s lawyer, Mike Johanson, said last year that his client required medical treatment after suffering a shoulder injury. He filed a lawsuit against Bennett, seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in compensation. But a Houston police chief said that a detective did not actively pursue this case until September of 2017 because the department had more serious cases to deal with, the Associated Press reported. The player and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told USA Today Sports that they’re “delighted with the outcome.
"Whatever happened to this women — and I am sure she's a decent human being —wasn't the result of anything Michael Bennett did," Hardin told the publication. "There were a bunch of relatives of New England players who were authorized to go onto the field after the game. Apparently, somebody going through the door pushed her arm and she suffered a sprain."
He later added, "I want to thank the district attorney's office and the police for having the courage to do the right thing in the end."
About the Author
Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.