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Las Vegas police respond to Michael Bennett’s allegations of excessive force

The LVPD is opening an internal investigation.

Michael Bennett released a letter Wednesday detailing an incident with Las Vegas police in which he claims they pointed a gun at his head, jammed a knee into his back, and handcuffed him so tight around his wrists that his fingers went numb. Hours later, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department held a briefing on the matter and released a statement.

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said officers were responding to an active shooter call outside of Drai’s Nightclub. Here is his description of what led to the incident involving Bennett:

“With very little information as to who the shooter was or that shooter’s location, our officers pushed past the fleeing crowds and began immediately converging on the reported threat. One of the teams that cleared the casino then exited the casino at the door to regroup and were redirected back toward the Drai’s Nightclub inside of the casino. As they moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached. Once Bennett was in the officer’s view he quickly ran out of the south doors, jumped over a wall onto Flamingo Road, east of Las Vegas Boulevard, into traffic. Due to Bennett’s actions and the information officers had at the time, they believed Bennett may have been involved in the shooting and they gave chase. Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the original incident.”

McMahill said Bennett was released after being detained for 10 minutes and had the situation explained to him by a supervisor.

“He said that he understood and had no problem with what the officer did, just the one that he claimed the officer had pointed a gun at his head,” McMahill said.

Below is the full briefing by LVPD. At about 7:12, they play a body cam video that shows part of the incident.

Police say they later determined that no shots were fired at the casino and that the call was “unfounded.”

McMahill said the LVMPD learned of Bennett’s claims Wednesday morning, and an internal investigation has been opened. McMahill added that the arresting officer did not have his body cam activated, but that it would be part of the investigation.

TMZ released video of the incident late Wednesday morning. In it, Bennett is seen on the ground telling the officer handcuffing him, “I wasn't doing nothing, man! I was here with my friends! They told us to get out, everybody ran!”

McMahill said, “I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident.”

Bennett has hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to explore legal options, which may include filing a civil rights lawsuit.