Warrant Issued for Michael Bennett’s Arrest
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Eagles defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted by a Harris County, Texas grand jury.
Bennett, 32, is accused of injuring an elderly paraplegic woman at Super Bowl LI when trying to push his way onto the field post-game. Bennett, who went to high school in Houston, was back in town to see his brother Martellus, then a tight end with the New England Patriots, play in the big game.
Bennett is facing a felony charge of hurting the 66-year-old paraplegic, who was working at NRG Stadium to control access to the field, prosecutors said.
Immediately following the game, a thrilling Patriots overtime win over Atlanta, Bennett allegedly shoved his way on to the field where players were gathering to celebrate. NRG Security personnel, including the 66-year-old, told Bennett he had to use a different entrance for field access.
Instead of heeding that advice, Bennett is accused of pushing through the security team, injuring the woman.
The Houston Police Department declined to release the identity of the woman injured but confirmed she was in a motorized wheelchair and Bennett pushed her, which strained her shoulder. There is no video of the incident, but a police officer witnessed it.
"(Michael) Bennett may think because he's an NFL player and because some time has passed, he may have thought rules don't apply to him," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo claimed.
The HPD also alleges Bennett said "f@#$ you" to an officer attempting to detain him.
“You are morally corrupt when you put your hands on a little old lady in a wheel chair,” Acevedo insisted. “He’s morally bankrupt. There’s no excuse for that."
As for the time between the alleged incident and the charges HPD claims the indictment took so long because it prioritized more significant cases.
The charge -- injury to the elderly -- includes intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older and 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.
“It’s very offensive to me that a man who is supposed to be an example, a professional athlete, thinks it’s OK to treat people like this," Acevedo explained. "He decided to push a 66-year-old, black paraplegic who trying to make living. It’s bad enough to put up with his verbal abuse but then to have the physical assault, too.”
The Eagles, meanwhile, issued a statement:
“We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information," the team said. "Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen