Thabo Sefolosha brought civil charges against five New York City police officers and the city Wednesday, almost one year to the day after the Atlanta Hawks forward suffered a broken leg during a nightclub incident with police.
The suit alleges false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment, and has a potential cap of $50 million in damages.
The incident that brought on these charges happened back on April 8, 2015, outside a Manhattan nightclub. Pacers forward Chris Copeland was stabbed outside the club in an unrelated incident that same night. As Sefalosha and then-teammate Pero Antic were exiting the club and preparing to leave, officers arrested the pair under claims they were interfering with the crime scene.
The broken leg and ligament damage that Sefolosha suffered during the arrest cost him the rest of the regular season, and the resulting Hawks’ playoff run.
He was offered a plea deal that promised to drop the charges in exchange for one day’s community service, but Sefolosha elected to fight the charges and clear his name. A jury agreed with forward, and clear him of the charges levied against him in October.
The civil suit also alleges the arrest stemmed from racial bias, according to ESPN.
Sefolosha ultimately decided to proceed with a suit that alleges his reputation and image have been damaged by the incident, and that his value as a professional basketball player has been adversely affected.
The suit also alleges that the incident was “a racial matter,” making specific reference to Sefolosha’s African descent and the hoodie he was wearing on the night of the arrest.
Antic filed his own suit on Monday. The District Attorney’s office dismissed the charges against him in September. Antic is eligible to recover up to $25 million in his suit.