We live in a world where a Democratic presidential candidate felt the need to apologize for saying his wife raises their kids “sometimes with his help.” So at the least, it only feels appropriate for Houston’s police commissioner to apologize to Michael Bennett for contributing to the assassination of his character.
Texas prosecutors dismissed felony charges against Bennett Wednesday, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the aggressively charged case. The outspoken defensive lineman was indicted last year for a felony charge of injury to the elderly. The Houston cops allege Bennett pushed over an elderly female paraplegic guard to race onto the field at Super Bowl LI, where the Patriots ousted the Falcons.
“After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Vivian King, chief of staff for District Attorney Kim Ogg, said in a statement, per the Houston Chronicle. "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.”
Police chief Art Acevedo seemed sure he possessed incriminating evidence against Bennett when charges were announced in March 2018 –– a mere 13 months after the alleged incident.
"You are morally corrupt when you put your hands on a little old lady in a little wheelchair. That is morally corrupt. I mean morally bankrupt," Acevedo said, via NJ.com. "He is morally bankrupt. There is no excuse for that. None. Zero.”
Despite Acevedo’s stern finger-wagging, there were lots of questions about the case. Though an officer witnessed Bennett’s alleged heinous attack, the defensive end wasn’t arrested that night. Police didn’t even start investigating the incident until eight months after the fact, as NJ.com details in its comprehensive breakdown of the dubious charges.
Even stranger, there’s no video of the incident, despite the fact that cameras are everywhere at the Super Bowl.
This was a flimsy case that damaged Bennett’s reputation. It’s probably one of the reasons why the trade was met with tempered enthusiasm around these parts, even though the Pats landed a dominant pass-rusher for a measly middle round pick.
There are other polarizing aspects of Bennett’s resume, such as his penchant to sit during the national anthem and well-publicized incident with Vegas police. He accused Las Vegas police of using excessive force on him during a reported active shooter situation in August 2017. The police-released videotapes seem to contradict Bennett’s claims, except for one issue: they don’t show the takedown, which is when Bennett says an officer pointed a gun near his head and threatened to blow it off.
As the laughable Houston episode shows us, it’s dangerous to blindly trust the police.