Elderly female paraplegic security guard injured by Michael Bennett, prosecutors allege
A league source told The News Tribune the Seahawks "were not aware" of the alleged incident at last year's Super Bowl involving Michael Bennett that got their since-traded Pro Bowl defensive end indicted by a Houston grand jury on Friday.
The source told the TNT the Seahawks and only learned of it when the grand jury announced the indictment against Bennett on Friday.
Seattle traded Bennett and a seventh-round draft choice to the Eagles this month in exchange for wide receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick.
Bennett was indicted Friday by a Harris County (Texas) grand jury for a felony charge of allegedly abusing an elderly woman who was working on the security detail at the 2017 Super Bowl there.
A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Prosecutors allege the 32-year-old Bennett injured a 66-year-old woman, a paraplegic, by shoving past her to get to his brother Martellus moments after Martellus won Super Bowl 51 with the New England Patriots on Feb. 7, 2017, in Houston.
"Immediately after the game Bennett shoved his way on to the field where players were gathering to celebrate," the grand jury's statement reads. "NRG (Stadium) Security personnel, including the 66-year-old disabled victim, told Bennett he had to use a different entrance for field access.
"Instead, he pushed through them, including the elderly woman who was part of the security team.
"The charge, injury to the elderly, includes intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older.
"It carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
"As a result of the indictment a warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest. Prosecutors are working with Bennett's counsel regarding his surrender."
Bennett had just finished his fourth consecutive season and second Pro Bowl one for the Seahawks when the alleged incident occurred. He was at the Super Bowl in Houston, where he went to high school, to watch his brother and his Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium.
The chief of the Houston police department read a statement during a press conference on the matter Friday.
"Mr. Bennett forcibly opened the locked doors (of tunnels leading to the field) even though security stated he did not have access to the tunnels to get to the field," Chief Art Acevado said. "In an attempt to force his way and push his way to the field, again, Mr. Bennett forcibly open locked doors, he pushed back one female, 28 years of age, a white female 28 years of age, and pushed back another male individual. Mr. Bennett then went up to a 66-year-old black female employee again of the NRG, a paraplegic, and pushed her. Mr. Bennett's assault on this individual actually caused injury, according to her medical records a sprain of her shoulder."
Chief Acevado said Bennett disregarded the command of a Houston police officer working security at the game who witnessed the incident. The chief added Bennett told the officer "**** you, and walked past him onto the field."
Acevado said Bennett allegedly told the people he had pushed: “You all must know who I am and I can own this (expletive). I’m going down to the field, whether you like it or not.”
Acevedo described Bennett as “morally bankrupt” for pushing the two women. Police said the disabled woman suffered her sprained shoulder when Bennett's alleged push caused her to the back of her 800-pound, motorized wheelchair.
“Mr. Bennett may think that because he’s an NFL player and some time passed … he may have thought that, number one, rules don’t apply to him, number two, he doesn’t have to respect the dignity of a paraplegic woman who’s trying to earn a living,” Acevedo said at the news conference.
Acevedo said a detective did not actively start working on the case until September, because Houston's police department had prioritized more serious cases.
Bennett played five seasons and in two Super Bowls for the Seahawks, winning the franchise's first NFL championship following the 2013 season.
Last summer he alleged mistreatment by Las Vegas police officers following an incident outside a casino in that city.