HOUSTON (WPVI) —
Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro defensive end Michael Bennett surrendered to authorities in Houston on a charge that he injured a paraplegic woman as he tried to get onto the field after last year’s Super Bowl to celebrate with his brother.
Bennett made a brief court appearance Monday where the judge set his bond at $10,000 on a felony count of injury to the elderly. He is now is free on bond.
After the hearing his attorney, Rusty Hardin, said neither the district attorney nor the police have the whole story.
“If you look at this guy’s career, personality, his family, he would never assault an elderly person, a disabled person,” Hardin said.
A release from the district attorney’s office states that Bennett was a spectator and in Houston to watch his brother, then a player for the New England Patriots, on Feb. 5, 2017. After the game, Bennett allegedly shoved his way onto the field, where players were gathering to celebrate, according to the DA’s office.
NRG security personnel, including a 66-year-old paraplegic woman, told Bennett he had to use a different entrance for field access, but the defensive end pushed through them, including the woman.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Houston Police chief Art Acevedo said Bennett allegedly told the people he had pushed, “You all must know who I am, and I can own this (expletive). I’m going down to the field, whether you like it or not.”
The woman suffered a sprained shoulder, according to Acevedo.
The injury to the elderly charge includes intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“Mr. Bennett might think that he’s an NFL player, and at that time and place, he thinks he doesn’t have to answer to police officer. I’m proud of the fact our department took the time to investigate this thoroughly,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo said a detective did not actively start working the case until September because the police department had prioritized more serious cases. There is no video of the alleged incident, according to Acevedo.
The Eagles said they are aware of the situation and gathering more information. A spokesman for the NFL said the league is looking into the matter.
Bennett was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Eagles along with a seventh-round pick on March 14 for a fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman, speaking at the NFL owners meeting in Orlando, Florida, said the team did not find out about the alleged incident until Friday, when the indictment was announced.
Roseman expressed full trust in the Seahawks organization and general manager John Schneider, dismissing any notion that Seattle might have withheld information, and said it was important to let the legal process play out.
“I think we’re in a great country, and in this country, people are presumed innocent, and I think we have to be fair about that in all these matters,” Roseman said. “I don’t think it’s fair in any situation to not give people the right to present their side. I don’t want to get into this, but our overriding philosophy on things are people are innocent until proven guilty.”
Roseman stressed that the Eagles do thorough background work on players before bringing them in, a process that includes talking to current members of the team about their experiences with that player. The feedback they received on Bennett, Roseman said, was positive.
“What we found out is that he is a good teammate. They like playing with him,” Roseman said. “Some of our players have been with him in the Pro Bowl; some of our players had trained with him, and we rely on information like that. Obviously, he came to our facility and we had a chance to sit down with him and talk to him.”
Roseman said the team has been in contact with Bennett since the alleged incident came to light.
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