Police Abuse

Police Union Complaint About Michael Bennett Had 'No Allegation' to Investigate, NFL Says

The league responds to a complaint about a complaint about police brutality.

|

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire CGV/Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Newscom

The Las Vegas police union is not happy that Michael Bennett has accused its officers of putting a gun to his head, but especially that he accused them of singling him out for being black. They sent a letter complaining about it to his employer, the National Football League, and demanding the NFL open an investigation into Bennett's "obvious false allegations."

Despite this, the letter doesn't specifically rebut most of Bennett's allegations, but does insist the police department's own investigation into the incident will clear the cops. Thanks to the efforts of police unions in Las Vegas and around the country, such internal investigations overwhelmingly clear officers against whom complaints have been lodged. The department's undersheriff has also come out to defend the officer's actions.

"While the NFL may condone Bennett's disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett's false accusations against our police officers," Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

To their credit, the NFL dismissed the union's ridiculous request.

"There is no allegation of a violation of the league's personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today.

Bennett is among those NFL players who have joined Colin Kaepernick in electing to take a knee during the national anthem at the start of games as a form of protest against police brutality and other racial injustices. Kaepernick and others have made it clear they aren't "disrespecting" the flag, which stands for, among other things, the right to protest. The American flag, in fact, was first raised by revolutionaries engaged in a very violent form of protest against government oppression.

Sitting, or kneeling, for the national anthem, is as non-violent as it gets. Grammas doesn't have to agree, but trying to wrap the American flag around police officers as a way to deflect legitimate criticism of police misconduct is more an affront to any aspirational values the flag might represent than anything Kaepernick or Bennett do during the national anthem.

Notably, Grammas did not specifically deny the allegations of excessive use of force Bennett made, including that one officer told him he'd "blow [his] fucking head off" if he moved while placing a gun to his head, and that he was kneed in the back. Instead, he insists Bennett was wrong to say this only happened to him because he was black, claiming that the officers involved (who have not been identified) were both "minorities."

Police were called to the casino where Bennett was after reports of shots fired a couple of blocks away. Though the casino's nightclubs were partially evacuated, police eventually reported that there was a knife fight but that no shots had been fired in the area.

"We believe that a fair investigation will establish that our officers responded to one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officer can be assigned—an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino," Grammas wrote. That the officers responded, of course, is not in dispute, but rather whether they acted appropriately.

Grammas claimed Bennett caught their attention because he "bolted out of the casino" after seeing them and then allegedly jumped over a four foot barrier wall (no video has emerged yet). They also claim he was initially crouching behind a slot machine, but if they believed there was an "active shooter" situation, this should not have been suspicious behavior. Bennett says he was running like anyone else in a situation where people think gunfire has erupted, and didn't see cops until they were confronting him.

"Michael Bennett's claim that our officers are racist is false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement," Grammas concluded, again without challenging Bennett's claims of misconduct and brutality specifically or offering an alternate series of events. "We hope you will take appropriate action against Michael Bennett."

Grammas talked about the officer's "right" to detain Bennett but his letter displays a total regard for Bennett's right to complain, not just on social media, but to the police department itself.

Unions respond in this kind of tone-deaf, adversarial way regularly, even in the aftermath of deadly incidents. The president of the police union in Cleveland, for example, blamed 12-year-old Tamir Rice for getting shot and killed by police.

Last year, Grammas and his union led a push to have "Black Lives Matter" pins banned from local courtrooms for constituting "political speech."

By design, because police unions are set up to protect their member's employment, they help to produce rules that shield bad actors. Rarely is this made clearer than in the mendacious defenses such unions put up against any kind of public criticism. Such powerful organizations of government employees have no place in a country where the government is supposed to work for the public.

NEXT: Justice Department Takes Baker's Side in Gay Wedding Cake Case Before Supreme Court

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Such powerful organizations of government employees have no place in a country where the government is supposed to work for the public.

    Whatever, Gramps Krayewski… news flash, a chocolate bar doesn’t cost 5 cents anymore either.

    1. Public sector employees should NEVER have unions. Ever.

        1. Oh I don’t know. Maybe because government employees shouldn’t be able to extort money from the taxpayers? Maybe because government doesn’t go out of business, so when unionized government employees demand more money they are forcing taxes to go up? Maybe because if government employees strike and cripple government they are acting as executive, legislative and judicial branches? Maybe because union demands can change the nature of government and circumvent the will of elected officials? Maybe because we have seen all of these things come to pass?

          1. Do libertarians really believe that people don’t have a right to freely associate with each other and collectively bargain?

            The libertarian argument should be that governments should have the right to replace union workers. Workers clearly have the right to freely associate, but they don’t have a right to be employed.

            1. Thing is, when union demands get too much for a private company, they see it in the bottom line. There is feedback in the form of profits. Demands get high enough that prices are driven beyond what customers are willing to pay, and management knows it’s time to push back. Or if union employees don’t satisfy the customers, the customers can go somewhere else. Management can see this and push back.

              Government doesn’t have that feedback. Just raises taxes if unions demand more money. Government doesn’t have competition. Government’s customers are forced to pay. They can’t go anywhere else. So that feedback isn’t there either.

              The whole point of unions is to extort a “fair share” of profits from the company. Government doesn’t have profits. It only spends.

              So collective bargaining simply doesn’t work in government. There is no way for management to know if union demands are excessive. So the employees get whatever they want, at the expense of the taxpayers and the people the government employees supposedly serve.

          2. Why shouldn’t government employees be able to freely choose to collectively bargain? How many jackbooted thugs do you think should be hired to prevent them from doing so?

            1. “Why shouldn’t government employees be able to freely choose to collectively bargain?”

              Because they represent both sides in the transaction, dumbass! They are the public and the employee, a textbook conflict of interest.

              In Oregon, for example, 1 out of 8 workers are public employees. Add in their family and friends and you have an almost unopposable voting block. It is political suicide for any candidate to thwart a public union.

            2. The problem with hiring jackbooted thugs is sooner or later they will unionize and demand higher wages.

  2. “We believe that a fair investigation will establish that our officers responded to one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officer can be assigned?an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino,”

    Is this like Columbine, where responding officers wait outside until the shooting stops?

    1. Officer safety is Job One!

      1. I thought covering their tracks was job one?

    2. It’s like the mad scramble when the “Hot Now” sign flips on at the Krispy Kreme.

  3. The department’s undersheriff has also come out to defend the officer’s actions.

    Apparently the investigation is complete. It’s a casino, which means every square inch is covered by camera. The event should be well documented.

    As for failing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” being nonviolent, I disagree. It’s an assault on this country’s sensibilities, on the memory of all who fought for what that flag represents and on the patch of AstroTurf being crushed under the traitor’s knee.

    1. So some free speech actually *can* be violent? I never took you for a SJW.

      1. If you understood how many people Fist sent to die for this country, you would understand how such refusal to show respect is equivalent to violence.

    2. What nonsense. Your attitude disrespects everything that our flag stands for.

      1. Your attitude disrespects everything our Fist stands for. Or sits for or takes a knee for. I once took an arrow to the knee.

        1. Are your adventuring days now behind you?

      2. Isn’t disrespecting everything a flag stands for, in fact, what our flag stands for?

        1. It’s dissing all the way down.

    3. The NFL shouldn’t let their employees act up like this on the job. I for one will not be watching any NFL programming while ‘activists’ like Bennett are pulling that kind of shit.

      However none of that has any bearing on potential abuses committed by the LVPD. Though I’m sure their investigation of themselves will exonerate them completely. Which is why the state police ought to be the one investigating.

      1. The controversy over taking a knee during the anthem obfuscates the real question – why the heck do we force people to participate in displays of patriotism prior to a local sporting event anyway?

    4. The pertinent question is whether it annoys enough morons to undermine the cause.

    5. Ridiculous argument Fist. One of our founding principles is freedom of speech. Forcing specific actions in front of symbols is authoriarian behavior.

    6. It is simply ludicrous to describe the American Revolution as a “very violent protest”. No, good sir. It was war against a foreign oppressor. The flag was the symbol of the goal of that Revolution: a new American nation.

      Today’s protests — taking a knee at the playing of the National Anthem — are in fact disrespectful of the flag whether those engage are intelligent enough to understand that or not. It is enough proof of this fact that they excoriate Jim Brown for pointing that out and showing a direction for proper protest.

  4. Kaepernick and others have made it clear they aren’t “disrespecting” the flag

    The national anthem is a civic ceremony where we show respect for the country. The whole point of choosing that minute to hold their protest is to publicly withhold that respect while others show it.

    Kaep hates the country, and feels the need to piss in the cornflakes of those who enjoy that ceremony. Fine.

    But don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

    The whole point is to show disrespect to the country. That’s the symbolism of their act. They should own up to it.

    1. “The national anthem is a civic ceremony where we show respect for the country. The whole point of choosing that minute to hold their protest is to publicly withhold that respect while others show it.”

      It’s jingoist band-standing by sport organizations, and anyone is welcome to sit down and enjoy their beer.

      1. Anything less than pure jingoism is hatred apparently.

      2. Yeah, this is the kind of libertarian attitude I detest. Throwing words like ‘jingoistic’ or ‘nativist’ about when people express the slightest form of patriotism. Which is not directed towards the douchebags running the country, it tprather our constitution, and the ideals of the republic. Not to mention that just being born here is pretty much like winning the lottery compared to most other parts of the world.

        I think a lot of people here need to sit back once in awhile, count their blessings, and show some fucking respect to these things that even make it an option to be libertarian. But then, that’s just my two cents, you’re all fortunate enough to have the freedom to be disrespectful, ingrates if you want.

        Just don’t expect cheers from the rest of us.

        1. Elias Fakaname|9.7.17 @ 10:28PM|#
          “Yeah, this is the kind of libertarian attitude I detest. Throwing words like ‘jingoistic’ or ‘nativist’ about when people express the slightest form of patriotism.
          […]
          I think a lot of people here need to sit back once in awhile, count their blessings, and show some fucking respect to these things that even make it an option to be libertarian.”

          What horseshit; I’ll see if I can find a safe space for you.
          I happen to detest jingoism.

        2. Elias Fakaname|9.7.17 @ 10:28PM|#
          Yeah, this is the kind of libertarian attitude I detest. Throwing words like ‘jingoistic’ or ‘nativist’ about when people express the slightest form of patriotism.

          Oh, and hey, I’ve got a great idea!
          Every morning, to start the AM links, EF can lead us in the recitation of the pledge of allegiance and sing the national anthem!
          I thin we can all agree that starting a morning of commenting on government stupidity is properly introduced by celebrating that government, right EF?

      3. I leave out the part about us being one indivisible nation when I say the pledge because it’s such an insidious statement. I don’t take too much offense to the anthem though. I can’t think of anything that’s particularly bad in there, unless you just hate the ritual of it all, which is fine

        But even in Libertopia there would be some degree of tribalism like that. It’s human nature

    2. What does ‘respect the country’ mean? My take is this is all about submission.

      1. It means you have to be happy and agree with literally everything everyone in the country does.

        1. This has to be one of the most ignorant statements I have heard yet. “Respect our country” does not mean “agree with literally everything everyone in the country does.” It means you have to respect our history, accomplishments and freedoms. Among other things, these are what allows a publication like Reason to exist. Not a single person I know of agrees with literally everything everyone in the country does, but I respect the fact that I live in a country where wide diversity of opinion, however expressed, is accepted as part of the warp and woof of our social fabric.

      2. You have to pay for the free gifts.

      3. Um, I’m guessing. And, I don’t stand for anthems

        But if I was trying to answer your question, I’d focus on all the poor souls who had to fight and die so we could choose not to stand for an anthem.

        I think, in that regard, taking a moment to appreciate what was done and who did it is ok.

        1. 1. If they *had* to fight – then its not a flag worth respecting because its a flag of slavers.

          2. If they *chose* to fight – then wouldn’t it be fitting to honor that sacrifice by doing the things they died so you could have the freedom to do them?

          And, frankly, no one has died for my right to do anything in this country for well over a century at least. WW1, 2, Korea, Vietnam? Not wars fought for American freedoms. Let those guys stand when the national anthem is played.

          1. You blew it again.
            WWII certainly was fought for US freedoms.

    3. The only thing I’ve been truly offended by with Kaep is his profound stupidity. This is a guy protesting our criminal justice system and the fact that we lock too many people in cages. Sure, I agree with him on that even if I don’t find the racial angle to be a particularly helpful line of thinking. But he wore a fucking Fidel Castro shirt. You don’t get to protest mass incarceration and wear a Fidel Castro shirt

    4. He hates certain aspects of the country, such as its propensity to sic heavily armed retards to ethnically cleanse people who look like him.

      If you want everyone to sing in chorus about how the country’s perfect just the way it is, go to North Korea. Bring food!

  5. “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers,”

    How do you find a person who can make that statement and not just kill themselves out of shame.

  6. “Despite this, the letter doesn’t specifically rebut most of Bennett’s allegations, but does insist the police department’s own investigation into the incident will clear the cops.”

    If they already have come to a conclusion, why are they wasting taxpayer money on an investigation?

  7. “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers,” Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.”

    WAVE that flag, Grammas!

    1. What a flagrantly stupid thing to say. Reads like a parody.

  8. I think there are at least two ways to look at the national anthem: one is that it’s a sign of patriotism, where everybody, no matter their politics, race, religion, etc, jointly celebrate our common pride and love of our country. If you are seriously upset about some aspect of the country, it’s a valid time to protest.
    A second way to view it is similar to the pledge of allegiance: we are a free people, and don’t take oaths of fealty or suffer being forced to show respect to the government.
    Either way I while I may disagree with his “speech”, I will defend to the death his right blah blah blah.

    1. Ideally, sports events should be private, non-taxpayer-funded, and the owners of the venue should set their own rules, including taking part in patriotic gestures if that’s their thing.

      And a union of government employees – an organization which isn’t really private but simply a way for the government to lobby itself for more power and money – should…well, it should dissolve itself or be dissolved.

  9. Americans stand in respect. But we don’t bow before governments or knell in supplication. Would you knell before Queen Elizabeth? If you don’t want to respect the country, which is o.k. by me, then remain sitting. To me, a knell just shows abject submission to the government and I doubt that is what the protesting players wish to show.

    1. I just might make the sound of a bell before Queen Elizibeth.

    2. You stand out of respect for the flag, the constitution, and the binding principles of the republic. It is in no way about ‘submission’. Which given the violent nature of this country’s founding and the principles it’s built on, is a ridiculous idea. Quite the opposite.

    3. Standing before a government is the same thing as kneeling – its a sign of submission.

      1. I wouldn’t stand at “Hail to the Chief” because it’s about the government. But if it’s about the country, I could (literally) stand for that.

  10. Libertarians should condemn the protests not because they are disrespectful but because they are bad business. The customers don’t like it and have left in droves. They are destroying the institution that is making them millionaires. It’s insane.

    1. I would care if I cared about them continuing to make millions. If they want to throw away their goodwill with money-losing gestures, they can go ahead for all I care, it will give businesses a useful lesson in how not to piss on the public’s patriotism.

    2. If its bad business then there’s nothing for libertarians to protest. Its free actors acting freely and the market is sorting the situation out.

      1. I didn’t say libertarians should protest I said they should condemn bad business practices as any good capitalist would.

  11. I also think that many of the people who are insistent on public gestures of respect for the *country* will draw a sharp distinction between the country (which they love) and the government (which they find disgusting, precisely because they love their country).

    1. Exactly. It’s a sign of respect and gratitude for those who cam before, and those who now stand up and make sacrifices so we can be free. Not a bunch of fucking greedy rent seeking bureaucrats.

      The government is NOT the country. Just a collection of clerks and temp workers (elelcted officials) hired to run public offices. I promise you that not a single pratriot is standing up to salute those people.

      1. Likewise, many of the kneelers and eye-rollers (not all) are not acting from a libertarian skepticism toward state power, but on the contrary are simply waiting for some glorious leader to create a country worth loving – and until such a Leader emerges the country is meh. And if the voters actually reject such a Leader that simply proves how meh the country is.

        1. Sports Reporter Charles Manson|9.7.17 @ 11:46PM|#
          “Likewise, many of the kneelers and eye-rollers (not all) are not acting from a libertarian skepticism toward state power, but on the contrary are simply waiting for some glorious leader to create a country worth loving – and until such a Leader emerges the country is meh. And if the voters actually reject such a Leader that simply proves how meh the country is.”

          And I’m pretty sure, under A1, that right to stupid speech is protected.
          Which still does not address the point of sports organizations wrapping themselves in the flag at the beginning of each and every ‘event’ of men playing ball. Or driving cars, for that matter.
          WIH does either one of those have to do with the flag? Are horrible countries prohibited from playing stick-ball?

      2. The original patriots fought for liberty. How well has the “country” honored that sacrifice?

        1. You at least need a standard to aspire to…or to modify the metaphor, something to serve as a goad to inspire improvement…”what a great country, we deserve nothing less than to fix some of these problems we have…and vote some of these problems out of office.”

          1. It goes back to the question posed above.

            What is the country?

            If anything, the country is the people who inhabit it. The beliefs held by the Founders, enshrined in the Constitution, have been systematically gutted over the last two centuries, largely with the support of the people.

            When a majority of the people embrace liberty as a matter of principle, I’ll once again consider this nation great.

            As it stands, it hasn’t earned it.

            1. Sure, you can love a country even without thinking it great. It’s a common trope for a patriot to mourn lost greatness, but the key word is “mourn.”

              1. Sure, you can love a country even without thinking it great.

                Why would you, if not for some misplaced blind allegiance?

                1. Because it’s one’s own country.

                  Of course there’s always emigration, which is a great American right for those who are simply alienated (literally) from their country – look at the people who were so sick of their countries of origin they came to America. Americans can do the same in the other direction and we’d have no right to complain.

                  While the option of emigration makes one’s country a bit more escapable than one’s family, there is at least an analogy with one’s family – you don’t have to think your relatives are totally awesome in order to love them.

                  1. Because it’s one’s own country.

                    Now there’s a good reason.

                    You know who else loved their country unconditionally?

                    1. Was it right or wrong? Those guys?

                    2. “You know who else loved their country unconditionally?”

                      Unconditionally? I mentioned emigration as an answer for people literally alienated from their own country.

                  2. Sports Reporter Charles Manson|9.8.17 @ 12:26AM|#
                    “Because it’s one’s own country.”

                    This sort of sentiment reminds me of the claim that a real fan must root for the team even when the team sucks, or you’re not a real fan.
                    Let’s start with the assumption on my part that the country as expressed in the government thereof is, or should be, about as interesting to me as who does cleanup on aisle 6 at the grocery; the government’s role is to be the janitor of humanity, so it’s due a tip around Christmas and not much else.
                    And then, let’s assume (like most local teams) it sucks at what it’s doing. Well, I live in SF and haven’t watched the 49ers in years. They suck, they are not entertaining, so they are not doing their job and they get no allegiance from me.
                    So we have a government which really isn’t in the entertainment biz, and therefore gets no cheerleading from me even if it was doing well, followed by the fact that it’s not doing a good job on aisle 6, so it can forget the tip.

                    1. Oh, and in the case of the ‘9ers, the jingoism is about the only time the team gets most of the folks off their asses.
                      Yep, if you have no talent, wave the flag!

                    2. I was speaking of love of country, not support of the government or pretending the government doesn’t suck. In your analogy, the sucky sports team is the government.

      3. Who is making sacrifices so we can be free?

  12. Cops are moral busybodies and also hypocritical douchefucks, but with a soup?on of psychopathy that makes them not care about the human beings they are incapable of empathizing with. Go ahead and wrap your retarded morbidly obese selves in the flag. The constituency who falls for this petulant narcissistic abuse are all dying soon of various Big Gulp related ailments anyway. God damn. If only just once in my life I’d met a cop who wasn’t a fucking unnecessarily twitchy Freud case. But they are all cunts. The only question I have is whether the ones who enthusiastically pursue the career (I like guns, uh uh, sometimes in my anus, uh uh) are any better than the ones who are there only because they can’t read too good.

  13. You can kneel all you want.

    I just stopped watching as of last season.

    1. That’s the way proper way to express your disapproval. Act with your own consumer power.

  14. Really? The guy acts suspicious so the cops single him out but all he can claim is they did it because he was black and the author has no problem with that whatsoever. Ridiculous.

  15. By design, because police unions are set up to protect their member’s employment

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.