“Thabo Sefolosha”, a Swiss basketball player who represents the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, could be the victim of a racially-motivated attack, according to a defense lawyer.
On April 8, Sefolasha and teammate Pero Antic were arrested outside a trendy New York nightclub for allegedly interfering with police after Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland was stabbed in the abdomen following an argument. While charges against Antic were dropped, Sefolasha rejected the prosecutor’s no-plea bargain and allowed the case to proceed to trail. Sefolosha, 31, maintains that police officers broke a bone in his right leg while arresting him, causing him to miss the NBA playoffs.
“I don’t know what he saw,” attorney Alex Spiro said regarding Officer JohnPaul Giacona, who first demanded Sefolosha to walk away from the area. “I think he saw a black man in a hoodie,” Sprio was quoted as saying by ESPN.
Sefolosha was charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He pleaded not guilty and refused a plea deal.
However, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office argue that it was Sefolosha who disobeyed Police orders. “He doesn’t think the rules apply to him,” Jesse Matthews, assistant district attorney, told the jury. “Defendant (Sefolosha) displayed a sense of entitlement and disdain.”
On Tuesday, four police officers – including under-attack Officer Giacona – testified that they had repeatedly directed Sefolosha to move west to 10th Avenue in an attempt to disperse crowds that typically form as clubs and restaurants empty. However, the 6-foot-6 forward Sefolosha called Officer Giacona “a midget,” according to an ESPN report.
Sefolsha’s attorney Spiro rejected the bizarre theory put forward by Officer Dongvort, who as the final witness on Tuesday, testified that after the arrest Sefolosha had told him that the injury to his leg had occurred before his encounter with the officers. “But he was playing in a game that day,” Sefolsha’s attorney Spiro replied. “How is that possible?”