Atlanta Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha filed a federal lawsuit against New York City claiming that he was arrested unjustly and assaulted by NYPD outside of 1Oak nightclub in April 2015. The incident left him with a broken leg, which ended his season. On the night in question, Sefolosha and then teammate Pero Antic were arrested outside of the venue in a chaotic scene following the stabbing of NBA player Chris Copeland inside of the club.
The loss of Sefelosha was a crushing blow to the Hawks, who had finished first place in the Eastern Conference and notched a 60 win season that year, a franchise record. Without their best defender, the team eventually fell to the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs.
Sefolosha claims in his lawsuit that he called one of the officers “a midget” before he was thrown to the ground and arrested. He testified at his trial that he moved off the block at the behest of a confrontational officer and was trying to give a panhandler a $20 bill when he was grabbed by police and taken to the ground.
The officers “attacked and jumped” on Sefolosha and one used a baton to hit him during the arrest, he claims in the lawsuit. Sefolosha has said he was left with a broken leg during the struggle, causing him to miss the playoffs.
In his lawsuit, Sefelosha also says that the arresting officers filed a false police report.
The 11-year veteran is seeking unspecified damages. On the bright side, he made a full recovery and is currently having one of his most productive seasons.