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The New York Police Department is mired in another controversy after officers arrested NBA player Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks, breaking his leg during the violent takedown. Sefolosha suffered a broken fibula which went untreated overnight and later tests confirmed ligament damage. The injury is expected to end his season as the Atlanta Hawks are in first place and headed to the playoffs in 2 weeks.

(TMZ Sports)
(TMZ Sports)

The incident occurred early Wednesday morning outside the Manhattan nightclub 1Oak as police responded to reports of a man stabbing a different NBA player Chris Copeland, his girlfriend and another woman in a shocking attack.

Copeland, a former New York Knick who now plays for the Indiana Pacers, was in town for a game but was not at the club with Sefolosha and the incidents were unrelated. Sefolosha was injured after NYPD officers claim they were trying to establish a crime scene and asked the players back up. Sefolosha was at the club with his Atlanta Hawks teammate Pero Antić.

NYPD claims the players were uncooperative and at that point, Sefolosha was targeted for arrest.

TMZ reported that Antic and Sefolosha were told six times to clear the scene, but would only “move a couple of feet away but refuse to clear the area”, according to the criminal complaint.

Police claim Sefolosha “flailed his arms, twisted his body and kicked his legs” and it took four cops to get the 6′ 7″ player into handcuffs. While he is a large man, the police yet again needlessly started a physical confrontation leading to the players’ arrests.

Thursday evening, TMZ published a video that shows five officers surrounding Sefolosha before trying to take him down. TMZ noted the video shows one officer grabbing Sefolosha by the back of the neck to bring him down to the ground.

As more information was about the events surfaced, the NYPD has come under increasing scrutiny by the league’s players union, the National Basketball Players Association as well as the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN and league sources. Thursday, representatives from the players’ association went to the 10th Precinct in Manhattan with several inquiries about the incident.

Hawks officials have asked questions about the specific circumstances leading to Sefolosha being detained for several hours with the broken fibula.

Thabo Sefolosha seen grimacing as he leaves a New York courtroom (Associated Press)
Thabo Sefolosha seen grimacing as he leaves a New York courtroom (Associated Press)

“The players’ union is concerned about the circumstances of Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic’s arrest and is doing its own investigation of the situation,” NBPA spokeswoman Tara Greco said confirming the union’s involvement. “The union was fully engaged in supporting all three players in court and in the precinct this week, and will continue to stay engaged as each situation evolves” as Greco noted the union’s discontent.

As for the rest of the incident, Hawks teammate Pero Antic was also arrested. Afterwards he told reporters that the incident was “a pure example of being at the wrong place at the wrong time” and that he and Sefolosha had nothing to do with the knife attack on Copeland as they were not together at the club. Gothamist has more information on the knife attack that started the scene.

The incident was sparked around 4 a.m. Wednesday outside the nightclub at 453 West 17th Street. Copeland was apparently in an argument with his wife when 22-year-old Shezon Bleary interrupted them. He then allegedly took out a knife: “Copeland told the man to get lost, which is when the suspect allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Copeland in the stomach, police sources said. Bleary then turned the blade on the basketball player’s [former girlfriend], Katrine Saltara, and stabbed her in the breast, buttocks and arm, police sources said. Another woman, who was known to the stabber, was also attacked.”

Copeland sustained a knife wound to his left elbow and abdomen and is in stable condition; he also fractured an elbow during the melee. He underwent surgery on his elbow and abdomen and is currently recovering.

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