Atlanta Hawks guard-forward Thabo Sefolosha settled his lawsuit with the city of New York stemming from his arrest and subsequent injury in April of 2015. NYPD officers broke Sefolosha’s femur outside of a Manhattan nightclub. This happened right at the cusp of the Atlanta Hawks playoff run and he had to stay at home with a post-surgery cast during the games due to his injury.
Prosecutors charged Sefolosha with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration. However, he was acquitted of all charges. At the time, he released a statement. The last line stated, “I will simply say that I am in great pain, have experienced a significant injury and that the injury was caused by the police.”
Nearly six months after the incident when Sefolosha was cleared of all charges, he decided to take the situation into his own hands. As such, he sued the NYPD for $50 million for using excessive force while arresting him.
The incident outside of the nightclub occurred after fellow NBA Player Chris Copeland was stabbed. While police were trying to secure the scene, Sefolosha and a police officer got into a verbal altercation.
“An officer came over to me and said, “Get the hell out!” I said, “Did I do something wrong? You can talk to me in a nicer way.” I didn’t quite understand why he had to come at us so hard when there were so many other people around. We moved, but he kept telling us to get the hell out. I told him we were listening to him: “You are the police, but you don’t have to act like you’re the toughest guy on earth.” He said, “With or without a badge, I can fuck you up.” Like, whatever. We’re not about to find out. I’m the last guy who gets physical with anybody, especially the police. At the same time, I felt singled out for no reason. He was much shorter than me. [Sefolosha is six feet seven.] I said, “You’re a midget, and you’re mad.” I voiced my opinion, but I kept moving.” Sefolosha said in a statement.
Although the city maintains their innocence in the situation they released a statement that reads:
“This settlement is not a concession that Mr. Sefolosha was blameless in this matter and there was no admission of liability by the defendants. However, in light of the gravity of his injuries, the potential impact on his career as a professional athlete and the challenge for a jury in sorting out the facts in this incident, the resolution of the case was in the best interests of the city.” Per The Guardian.
According to the Hawks player, he was attempting to walk away from the situation when law enforcement officers decided to surround him and provoke the situation. The arrest video, via TMZ Sports, appears to back up his claims. In the video, a group (about a half dozen) attempt to take Sefolosha to the ground to arrest him. They eventually get Sefolosha to the ground, arresting him violently enough to break his leg. Today the city settled with the athlete, paying him $4 million to drop his lawsuit. Sefolosha was suing the city for shortening his career and costing him future endorsement deals.