AUSTIN, Texas —Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson was charged with failing a sobriety test while operating a 30-foot boat, then resisting arrest before being hit with pepper spray and dragged ashore by officers.
Benson faces charges of boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest after the incident Saturday night on Lake Travis, Travis County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Roger Wade said Sunday.
Benson 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. A call to Benson’s agent was not immediately returned.
Benson was operating the boat with 15 passengers aboard when he was stopped by a Lower Colorado River Authority officer 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.
“When Benson did not pass the test, he presented himself as a threat to the officer and argued about whether or not he would be taken to land to have a follow-up field sobriety test performed on land and refused to put on a life jacket,” the authority said in a statement.
The officer had to use pepper spray to subdue Benson. He then refused to leave the officer’s boat and authorities had to drag him to a car to be taken to the Travis County jail, the authority said.
Chicago coach Lovie Smith said he’s still trying to figure out exactly what happened in Texas.
“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,” Smith said Sunday at the end of the Bears’ three-day rookie minicamp in Lake Forest, Ill.
Bears officials said general manager Jerry Angelo was out of town Sunday and unavailable to comment.
Benson has had legal problems before.
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.
Benson rushed for more than 5,500 yards and 64 touchdowns at the University of Texas, going for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.
The 25-year-old has done little since the Bears took him with the fourth pick of the 2005 draft.
As a rookie he couldn’t beat out Thomas Jones and 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.
Last year, Benson took over as the featured back after Jones was traded away. He rushed for 674 yards, four touchdowns and 3.4 yards a carry before going on injured reserve 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.