Atlanta Hawks’ forward Thabo Sefolosha will get a $4-million settlement in a police-brutality suit he filed against the NYPD that he said broke his leg and left him unable to finish the NBA season in 2015.
“This settlement is not a concession that Mr. Sefolosha was blameless in this matter and there was no admission of liability by the defendants,” the city law department said in a statement to the New York Daily News. “But, 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.”
The $4-million payout is a fraction of the $50 million Sefolosha originally sought from the New York City Police Department and the city it serves in October 2015.
As previously reported, police maintained they had been close to Manhattan, N.Y.’s 1Oak nightclub in April 2015 addressing the stabbing of now-Turkish Basketball Super League player Chris Copeland. The cops claimed Sefolosha questioned their authority, adding they were simply trying to keep him out of the area. Sefolosha said he handed a homeless man money near the club when officers pulled him to the ground, arresting Sefolosha and breaking his leg. Former Hawks teammate Pero Antic had accompanied Sefolosha to the club and also was arrested.
Sefolosha, whose suit also pointed to a “racial matter” regarding the hoodie he wore at the time of his arrest, testified that he referred to NYPD Officer Jean Paul Giacona as “a midget,” according to NYDN, before he was dragged to the ground. The act of police brutality injured the 6-foot-6 baller’s leg and could have ended his NBA career, his lawsuit said.
Charges against Sefolosha stemming from the incident, including disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, were dismissed in October 2015.
The 2016-2017 NBA season will be Sefolosha’s last as a Hawk as his three-year, $12-million deal comes to a close, Yahoo reported. He will become a free agent this summer, while Antic, who also sued the city over the scuffle, is playing for the Turkish Basketball Super League. Antic’s federal lawsuit over the incident is pending.