Denver Bronco linebacker Brandon Marshall — one of the leading voices in a swelling protest by professional athletes against racial injustice — says a July 4 encounter with Miami police in part led him to take a knee during the national anthem.
Marshall, 27, said he was detained, handcuffed and threatened with a Taser by Miami police as thousands fled Bayside Marketplace after someone fired a gun into the air that night. He was let go a short while later and never arrested.
Miami police, who were blindsided by a report published Thursday in the Denver Post, said they had never heard a word of concern from Marshall about his treatment, but pledged to open an investigation. By Friday, police had reviewed and released the incident report of Marshall’s detention and said the case was closed as far as they were concerned.
“There’s nothing here that leads us to believe the officer did anything wrong,” said Miami Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera. “And the police department has not received any complaints from Mr. Marshall.”
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The choice of some players to kneel before games during the national anthem has sparked nationwide debate, with some accusing athletes of dishonoring the flag and others arguing that it’s an exercise of free speech. The gesture, which has gained steam throughout the NFL and in other sports, is aimed at highlighting police brutality and other injustices suffered by blacks.
Several Miami Dolphins have joined the movement with the support of team owner Stephen Ross, who runs a nonprofit that aims to tackle civil injustices.
Marshall’s encounter with Miami police had never been publicized before his comments to the Post. According to the incident report, Marshall, who was having dinner at Bayside, was among a crowd fleeing the tourist attraction after the reported gunfire erupted just past 10 p.m. July 4. When officers directed Marshall to stop, he kept walking, the report said, then an officer grabbed Marshall’s right hand.
“Marshall reacted by throwing his hands in the air and screaming that he didn’t do anything,” the officer wrote.
Marshall was handcuffed. The report says he told police he got scared as they approached him and that he was on his way to his parked car. Eventually, police released him. There is no mention in the report whether police knew that Marshall played in the NFL.
Marshall’s recollection of the incident was slightly different. The linebacker told the Denver Post that when a woman directing traffic ordered police to stop him, he was rushed, handcuffed and threatened with a Taser. He said he was seated in the back of a patrol car when another officer radioed in and said to release him.
“They told me, ‘Look, we’re not going to take you in as long as you keep it between us,’ ” Marshall said.
The Miami Herald reached out to the Denver Broncos media department for comment Friday. The ball team had not responded by late afternoon.
There was considerable chaos that night at Bayside. Someone had fired a shot into the air, and the thousands who were there to see the fireworks and celebrate then scattered quickly. Some jumped into the bay. People ran over each other. Children got lost and police officers’ main goal was reuniting them with their parents, police said.
At one point police took someone into custody who they said had a gun. There is nothing to indicate that person was Marshall.
Marshall is a fifth year pro who played college football at the University of Nevada. On Sept. 8, during the opening game of the season against the Carolina Panthers, he became the third player in the NFL to join the protest movement begun by San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, his college teammate.
The protest decision has been costly for Marshall, who has lost at least two endorsement deals. But he hasn’t let it deter him. Two weeks ago, in an attempt to turn his protest into action, Marshall spent almost an hour with Denver Police Chief Robert White. And last week, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons offered Marshall an endorsement deal.