As of Friday morning, NBA star Thabo Sefolosha has been cleared of all charges and found not guilty of resisting arrest stemming from an altercation in April with the NYPD which ended with the cops breaking his leg.
“They were on the side of truth and justice today. … I’m just happy all this is over now and I can put this behind me, knowing my name has been cleared,” ESPN quoted Sefolosha, 31, as saying.
While Sefolosha did not say whether he would pursue a case against the city, it’s a damning scenario for a police force constantly accused of excessive force and racial profiling, especially in light of the violent take down of tennis star James Blake by a plain-clothes cop just weeks ago in a case of mistaken identity. And a clear example of police brutality.
In the April incident, Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic were arrested outside of a New York City club on the night that Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland and his girlfriend were stabbed. Sefolosha has maintained that the two incidents were completely separate, even though many media reports linked them together. In fact, cops said Sefolosha “refused” to leave the scene of the crime.
Cops also reported that Sefolosha “charged” at them, but he has maintained that he was singled out by a police officer, who told him “with or without a badge, I’m going to fuck you up and I can fuck you up.”
Sefolosha claims they then attacked him when he attempted to give a homeless person money. That homeless person testified in court that cops attacked the NBA star when he attempted to give him $20.
Video obtained by TMZ Sports released earlier this year showed a very different story from police claims that Sefolosha was violent with them. In the video, cops can be seen placing Sefolosha into a headlock and wrestling him to the ground. One police officer appears to strike him in the leg while the NBA player was already down. As a result, he suffered a season-ending broken ankle, which required surgery and is still not healed.
The case went to criminal court and Sefolosha found himself facing jail time for “resisiting arrest.” But the NBA player did not back down. Prosecutors reportedly offered him a plea deal, where he would do one day of community service and the case would go away without a trial. But, risking harsh punishment, the end of his career and jail time, Sefolosha demanded a trial, seemingly to shed light on the plague of police brutality in New York City and the country alike.
A teary-eyed Sefolosha told reporters Friday that the decision to testify “wasn’t difficult at all. All I had to do was tell the truth.”
We’re glad to see Sefolosha shine a light on police brutality. And it will be a good day when all Black people are afforded their due justice by simply telling “the truth.”