Details in police report conflict with Benson's account of arrest
Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson had bloodshot eyes, a "strong" alcohol odor and slurred speech when stopped by authorities while boating last weekend on Lake Travis near Austin, Texas, according to a police report released Monday.
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Details in the report differ greatly from Benson's account of his arrest, which occurred Saturday night after the 30-foot boat was stopped for a random safety inspection, police said.
Benson said he will fight the misdemeanor charges against him -- boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest. The former Texas Longhorn is scheduled to appear in court May 19.
"There was no resistance on my part," Benson told the Chicago Tribune. "Was I drunk? No." He told the Chicago Sun-Times "there was alcohol on the boat and others were enjoying themselves, but I wasn't drunk."
Sgt. Leonard Snyder, who sprayed and arrested Benson, wrote in his report that he believed Benson was intoxicated because he was "combative," "cocky," "insulting" and used "profanity," but at other times was "crying" and "cooperative."
After failing sobriety tests applied by Snyder, who works with the Lower Colorado River Authority, Snyder wrote that Benson refused to come ashore for additional tests and "stood up from the position where I had him seated and suggested I could not tell him what to do."
Upon telling Benson he was under arrest and about to be put in handcuffs, "I touched his body in an attempt to direct him, and he presented himself in a very hostile way,'' Snyder wrote in the report. "Benson [5-foot-11, 220 pounds] is a very muscular person and easily capable of overpowering me. As I had exhausted all attempts to gain control of Benson, and been met with resistance and what I perceived as a threat, I administered pepper spray into Benson's face to gain control."
Benson argued whether he would go to land for a follow-up field sobriety test and refused to put on a life jacket, and the officer had to use pepper spray to subdue him, the authority said. He refused to leave the officer's boat and had to be dragged to a car to be taken to the Travis County jail, the authority said.
Attorney Brian Carney acknowledged his client owned the 30-foot boat, but he questioned whether Benson was behind the wheel -- police said there were 15 passengers -- and wondered why officers felt threatened.
"Is he going to jump in the lake and swim away?" Carney said. "You just swim into the night? You start the boat and take him over there."
Carney said Benson was "completely compliant" and even said "thank you very much" after he completed the sobriety test. He said Benson then told them he wanted to go back to his boat.
Carney added Benson did nothing "aggressive" until after he was pepper-sprayed, when he started screaming for his mother and the boat. He said officers threw his client to the ground and poured water on him to wash away the spray, causing Benson to choke.
The Bears declined comment on Monday. A day earlier, coach Lovie Smith said he was "disappointed" by the news.
"As much as he would like to feel special, it's not just Cedric Benson. People get stopped all the time," Travis County Sheriff's Department spokesman Roger Wade said, according to the Sun-Times.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.