Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett was indicted Friday by a Harris County, Texas grand jury for the felony charge of injury of the elderly for an incident at Super Bowl LI.
A warrant has been issued for Bennett’s arrest. Bennett is out of the continental United States and will surrender when he returns, according to Rusty Hardin, one of his attorneys.
Bennett was accused of injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic woman who was securing the field at Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017. Bennett, who was then a member of the Seattle Seahawks, attended the game to watch his brother, Martellus, who played for the victorious New England Patriots. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a Friday news conference that Bennett pushed three security officials and the 66-year-old injured a shoulder as Bennett sought to get on the field for the postgame celebration.
Acevedo said there is no video of the incident, but a police officer witnessed the event and Bennett cursed at the officer and the security officials. Acevedo added that the police officer tended to the injured woman instead of pursuing Bennett.
“It was complete and total disregard for the authority of that officer, complete and total disregard for the authority of the security personnel, and complete and total disregard, disrespect, and criminal assault on several people, but most certainly, I think it’s very offensive to me that a man is supposed to be an example, a professional athlete, would think it’s OK to treat people like this,” said Acevedo, who also called Bennett “morally bankrupt.”
“I can’t speak to the facts yet because I was just asked to be involved, I have tremendous respect and affection for the chief of police in Houston, but I’m absolutely dumfounded that he’d go that far to speak about somebody that has just been charged,” Hardin said. “I’m hopeful that when all the facts are out he’d want to reconsider if he’d want to be that over the top with somebody who’s just been charged with a crime and is presumed innocent. I don’t know the facts, and I dare to say neither does the chief, and until we do, we shouldn’t be making those kinds of comments.”
Acevedo said that the reason there has been such a delay was that more significant cases took precedence. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information,” the Eagles said in a team statement. “Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The Eagles acquired Bennett on March 7 in a trade with the Seahawks. The team was not aware of the incident when it made the trade for Bennett, a league source said.
Staff writer Les Bowen contributed to this report.