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In a statement, Atlanta Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha said as much as he could, and said plenty enough in response to the ongoing investigation behind the season-ending injury he suffered while being arrested at the scene of Chris Copeland’s stabbing earlier this month:
“On advice of counsel, I hope you can appreciate that I cannot discuss the facts of the case. Those questions will be answered by my attorney in a court of law. I will simply say that I am in great pain, have experienced a significant injury and that the injury was caused by the police.”
Sefolosha, who suffered a broken right fibula and torn ligaments, then addressed the media as best he could while under legal advisement:
Q. You filed a complaint against the NYPD (New York Police Department). Are you able to comment on that?
A. No, I cannot.
Q. Is that true?
A. I don’t want to speak.
Q. What can you say about the injury?
A. It is painful. That’s all I can say. I don’t want to talk on the facts or how it happened or anything like this. It’s very painful and I will have surgery in the next few days and know a little bit more on the basketball stuff and when I can come back.
Lest you think Thabo is running away from “the injury was caused by the police,” he also added this aside in talking to the media:
Q. There is a video of what appears to be the police striking you with a baton. Is that how your injury occurred?
A. I don’t want to go into details on anything but I think the video speaks for itself.
The video, unearthed by TMZ just hours after it was announced Sefolosha would be out for the season, appears to show an NYPD officer striking the Hawks swingman with a baton after he had been wrestled to the ground. It was originally reported that Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic were close to Copeland we he was stabbed, but ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz reported on Tuesday that the two Hawk reserves “appear to be more than 100 feet from the site of Copeland's stabbing.”
The NYPD Internal Affairs bearau, according to Arnovitz’s report, will be contacting Sefolosha to interview him “as a complaining witness.”
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In case you’re diving in to pass judgment on the Hawks being out at that hour with a game scheduled for that night, understand that these two are widely beloved by the Hawks as teammates, with no previous history of rabble-rousing. This is what made the initial police report – one that stated Sefolosha decided to charge at a row of police – all the more surprising.
There is also this:
Sefolosha told media that his Hawk teammates have been “very supportive.”
Q. Can you understand the concern regarding where and when you were at the time?
A. Yes. I totally understand and I understand the question. I am disappointed that I will miss the playoffs. I hate this feeling that I’m letting my teammates down. At the same time, I can’t speak too much on it. I just hate the bad look it gives on the team.
Sefolosha and Antic were out at a club just hours after flying into New York City from Atlanta on a Tuesday night, and just hours before the team (already assured with the top seed in the Eastern Conference) was set to take on the Brooklyn Nets that Wednesday evening. This is what basketball players sometimes do. Their 9-to-5 starts at 5 at night, and it’s hard to turn down a chance to go to a club in New York with a potential two-month playoff slog upcoming.
As far as the police investigation and Sefolosha’s personal case go, we just hope the NYPD will allow some shred of transparency after what appears to be a rather dubious (to put it mildly) start to things.
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