Atlanta Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha took to the witness stand Wednesday, testifying on his own behalf in his ongoing trial in New York City.
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Controversial Sefolosha Case Nears Conclusion
Wednesday, Oct. 7
Sefolosha, 31, was charged with three misdemeanors in April after being involved in an altercation with multiple police officers. The officers allege Sefolosha failed to leave the scene of a crime that saw fellow NBAer Chris Copeland and two other individuals stabbed. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
While the case had been mired in controversy throughout—Sefolosha suffered multiple injuries that cost him the Hawks’ playoff run in the melee—Wednesday’s testimony painted the officers in an unflattering light.
According to Danny Knobler of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sefolosha, former Hawks teammate Pero Antic and two women who accompanied them that night each testified that officer JohnPaul Giacona berated Sefolosha with profanities and used excessive force in his arrest.
Police and Sefolosha have extreme differences in the origins of the incident. The officers have claimed Sefolosha “lunged” at Officer Daniel Dongvort, who was one of the multiple policemen on the scene. Sefolosha and his defense witnesses said that supposed “lunge” was actually an attempt to give a homeless man a $20 bill.
From Sefolosha’s testimony:
I said, ‘I’m just going to give the guy some money,’ (The officer) grabbed my arm. I dropped the money. He said, ‘That’s it, you’re going to jail.’ I turned and tried to put my right hand behind my back. I had a lot of money in my left hand and I tried to put it in my pocket.
Two or three officers were pulling me. I said, ‘Relax.’ They never gave me a direct order. One is pulling on my right. One is pulling on my left and someone had a hand on my neck. After five seconds, I realized they wanted me on the ground. I felt my leg going up, with somebody kicking me on my right leg.
The homeless man in question, Amos Canty, confirmed Sefolosha’s version of events. Canty said the officers were “kind of rough” as they took the NBA player down. Jurors in the case were shown a video of the incident Wednesday, which one of the two women with Sefolosha and Antic shot.
Sefolosha is still recovering from the right leg injuries suffered in the altercation. While cleared for basketball activities, he is still experiencing occasional pain in the leg and is yet to appear in a preseason game.
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