The New York Police Department is out of control, and the New York City prosecutors are right there with them.
In a case of unbelievable police and prosecutorial abuse of power, the NYPD broke an NBA player’s leg last April for “contempt of cop,” and prosecutors decided to ignore the evidence and slap Thabo Sefolosha with three criminal charges anyway.
Today, Sefolosha was acquitted of the charges against him in a trial that shows what a mockery the New York City police and justice departments have become.
On April 8, 2015, Sefolosha and his then-teammate with the Atlanta Hawks, Pero Antić, were leaving a nightclub in New York City after another NBA player, Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers was stabbed in the abdomen after an argument at the club.
Police claimed that Sefolosha refused to leave the crime scene and lunged at an officer. Video evidence, and the facts of the story, showed that Sefolosha was leaving the club, already around the corner and 80 feet away from a crime scene that had already been established for half-an-hour when the altercation with an NYPD officer began.
According to Sefolosha, the officer told him “Get off my block, it’s my fucking block…I’ll mess you up.”
Sefolosha answered,”You couldn’t, you’re a midget. Without that badge and gun you’re nothing.”
The video shows Sefolosha heading to his car.
As Sefolosha’s moves to give money to a homeless man, he is mobbed by police and taken to the ground.
Bystanders yelled, “Why are you doing this? You are hurting him!” as police swung a baton at Sefolosha’s legs.
Sefolosha was limping after the police handcuffed him and hauled him to his feet. Police later made a wild claim that Sefolosha told them he broke his leg earlier during a basketball game. Right.
Sefolosha needed surgery after this incident to repair a broken right fibula and torn ligaments. The injuries sidelined him for the rest of the NBA regular season and kept him out of the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Hawks were swept 4 games to 0 without Sefolosha, noted for his ability to guard LeBron James. He was arrested for obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.
“It’s troubling to me that with so much evidence in my support that this case would even be brought to trial and that I had to defend myself so hard to get justice,” Sefolosha said in a statement after being acquitted. “It pains me to think about all the innocent people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility, and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.”
As troubling as the NYPD’s behavior and the New York city attorney’s decision to prosecute is the deafening silence of the sports media during this trial. When a NBA or NFL player is in trouble with the law, the sports media continues beating the story until the horse is dead and mangled. For a story where an NBA player missed meaningful playoff games due to shocking police brutality, the media had very, very little to say.
ESPN’s Bomani Jones called out the rest of the sports media in a masterful rant on the subject.
“The easy answer is always you shouldn’t beat women, the easy answer is always you shouldn’t use drugs. Well you got a trial right here that has the hard answers and lucky for you they’re giving you the answers. You don’t have to necessarily opine on the answers. You don’t have to step outside of what is in the factual records. You don’t have to take any real risks. You got it right in front of you, so where are you now? Where are your principles now? Where are the things that you stand for right now? Because it’s real easy to find you guys when it’s easy. It’s real easy to find you when the answers are given to you…When it’s time to get hyper-moral and the answers are easy everybody gets loud as hell. Now the answers are a little tricky [talking about the disproportionate police brutality towards blacks] and you’re quiet as church mice, and you look like suckers as a result.”
As one reddit user, random_hero90, wrote, ” To call the media’s coverage piss poor would be insulting to piss poor. /r/nba basically provided our own coverage, and again those three guys a PD, a law student, and a prospective law student acted as our eyes and ears and did the reporting that should have been done for them.”
This is not even the first time the NYPD has made the news for abusing a famous athlete this week. A review board found this week that tennis player James Blake was unnecessarily thrown to the ground by an NYPD officer, in a second story that the sports media strangely had nothing to say about.
Sports gasbags everywhere, where is your humanity?
A second video can be seen here.