NBA Player Thabo Sefolosha: “It was an act of police brutality and I believe it could happen to anyone”

November 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Thabo Sefolosha is a 31-year-old Swiss-South African professional basketball player who plays for the NBA Atlanta Hawks. On April 8, 2015, Sefolosha was attacked by at least six NYPD cops, and he suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments, forcing him to miss the NBA playoffs.

A video of the incident outside a New York nightclub shows the cops grabbing Sefolosha, forcing him to the ground, and brutalizing him. Sefolosha was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration.

The police claimed they were trying to clear the area after an incident in the club and arrested Sefolosha because he refused to leave. In a recent interview with GQ magazine, Sefolosha recounts what actually happened—how he was singled out by the police, then taken down and arrested. Sefolosha and his lawyer say it was a classic case of racial profiling.

Sefolosha said, “It was an act of police brutality, and I believe it could happen to anyone. Now I’m a lot more aware of everything that goes on. I’ve been, I don’t want to say disillusioned, but brought back to earth in a harsh way.”

Sefolosha was offered a plea bargain — one day of community service and six months staying out of trouble in exchange for all charges being dropped . But Sefolosha rejected this because he’d done nothing wrong and wanted justice. On October 9 a Manhattan jury deliberated for an hour and found Sefolosha not guilty of all charges.

In the GQ interview, Sefolosha recounts how the cops pushed him and others out of the club. He says there was some back-and-forth between him and one officer who told him, “Without a badge, I can fuck you up.”

Sefolosha says he tried to get into a cab, and this is when the cops attacked him: “When a homeless man asked me for money. I took out twenty bucks. When I made a few steps toward the guy, an officer said, ‘You're going to jail.’... More officers started grabbing me... One officer pulled me from my right arm, another grabbed me on my left, and another grabbed me on the back of my neck. I'm in, like, an on-a-cross type of position. I couldn't even move. It was just chaos. I had never been arrested before. I understood a little bit late that they were trying to put me on the ground, but if somebody grabs your arms and pulls you on your neck, you fall face first.

“Somebody kicked my leg, more than once, from the back to force me to the ground. I knew something had happened as soon as they did it; I'm an athlete, so I know how my body should feel. They were stepping on my foot, too, I guess to try to keep me there. I didn't feel like there was anything I could do to calm it down. I tried to show them I was cooperating. I tried.”




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