Report: Benson's friend had dad call 911 over police treatment

Updated: May 7, 2008, 12:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A woman who was a passenger in Cedric Benson's boat when he was pepper-sprayed and arrested Saturday night said the Chicago Bears running back did not seem intoxicated and did not resist arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Elizabeth Cartwright, 22, a senior at the University of Texas and a friend of Benson, said she called her father and asked him to call police about the way Benson was treated by officers of the Lower Colorado River Authority, which patrols Lake Travis, a man-made lake northwest of Austin, Texas.

"I called my dad and told him, 'Call 911, my black friend is getting beaten up by police on Lake Travis,'" Cartwright recalled, according to the Tribune. "It's more what I heard than what I saw. I have never heard or seen Cedric that scared."

According to the police report, Benson had bloodshot eyes, a "strong" alcohol odor and slurred speech when his boat was stopped by authorities on Saturday.

Benson has denied he was intoxicated or that he resisted law enforcement and will fight the charges against him.

He met with Bears coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo on Tuesday, but the Bears did not comment on the meeting or their invesetigation of the incident, the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. reported.

Cartwright said she is willing to present her account of events as evidence. She also said her fiance took photographs of the incident that help back up her claims.

According to the Tribune, Cartwright said she had had one drink and Benson had consumed two when the party of about 15 people decided to head back to shore at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday to get dinner. About that time, a patrol boat approached to conduct a random check, she said.

According to Cartwright, it was the sixth time that a patrol had stopped Benson's boat on Lake Travis in as many outings this year.

Cartwright said after the boat passed the safety checkup, Benson was asked to board the LCRA craft for a sobriety test. As an officer led Benson to the LCRA boat for the test, the second officer left behind on Benson's boat assured his mother, Jackie Benson, that her son would be fine, Cartwright said, according to the report.

"I know Cedric and I don't think he was drunk," Cartwright said, according to the Tribune.

A few minutes later, Cartwright said she heard Benson begin to scream after the officer pepper-sprayed him, according to the report. By the time Benson was in handcuffs, he was screaming, "Please stop, Mom, make them please stop," she said.

According to the report, Cartwright's father, Jeff, called 911 at his daughter's insistence. Unaware she was calling about Benson, he told the dispatcher that police "were beating up a black kid on Lake Travis."

A Travis County spokesman wouldn't confirm or deny Tuesday night that a 911 call had been placed regarding the incident, according to the Tribune.

Benson and Cartwright's accounts differ from the police account of the incident.

According to the police report, Sgt. Leonard Snyder, who sprayed and arrested Benson, said 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."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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