Bears' Benson plans to fight charges Print
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Monday, 05 May 2008 14:10
NFL Headline News

 CHICAGO (AP) -Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson believes officers used excessive force against him and plans to fight charges he operated a boat while intoxicated and resisted arrest on a Texas lake over the weekend.
``He denies that he was intoxicated,'' attorney Brian Carney said Monday. ``He denies that he resisted arrest.''
Benson is scheduled to appear in Travis County Court on May 19 to face charges stemming from an incident Saturday night.
Benson failed a sobriety test while operating a 30-foot boat on Lake Travis near Austin and resisted arrest before being hit with pepper spray, Travis County Sheriff's Department spokesman Roger Wade said Sunday.
He was released from jail early Sunday on a $14,500 bond. The charges are class B misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Benson's version of what happened is drastically different from the police's description.
``There was no resistance on my part,'' Benson told the Chicago Tribune. ``Was I drunk? No.''
Police say Benson was operating the boat with 15 passengers when a Lower Colorado River Authority officer stopped him for a random safety inspection. He failed a field sobriety test on the officer's boat and was uncooperative when the officer tried to take him ashore, the authority said.
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.
Carney acknowledged his client owned the boat, but he questioned whether Benson was behind the wheel 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.
``They might as well have been waterboarding him,'' Carney said.
The Bears declined comment on Monday.
A day earlier, coach Lovie Smith said he was ``disappointed'' by the news.
``I haven't had a chance to speak with Cedric yet, but any time we're talking about one of our players getting arrested you're disappointed in it,'' he said Sunday at the end of the Bears' three-day rookie minicamp in Lake Forest.
This wasn't Benson's first run-in with the law.
He was sentenced to eight days in jail in 2003 for a misdemeanor trespassing charge after forcing his way into an apartment to look for a reported stolen TV. In 2002, misdemeanor drug and alcohol charges against him were dropped.
The Bears took Benson with the fourth pick in the 2005 draft after he rushed for more than 5,500 yards and 64 touchdowns at the University of Texas. But instead of developing into a star, the 25-year-old has been plagued by injuries and alienated teammates with blunt comments since arriving in Chicago.
As a rookie backing up Thomas Jones, he rushed for 272 yards in nine games. He was more effective the next season while sharing time with Jones, going for six touchdowns and 647 yards, but took a big step backward last season after the Bears traded away Jones and made him the featured back.
Benson rushed for 674 yards, four touchdowns and 3.4 yards a carry before going on injured reserve with a broken ankle in November.
In three years with the Bears, Benson has rushed for 1,593 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards a carry. He's also missed 13 games. And the Bears had already made it clear their patience was wearing thin by drafting Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round.

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