A former teammate of a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub said his friend was giving money to a homeless man when he was taken to the ground by police officers. Ex-Atlanta Hawks power forward Pero Antic testified Wednesday in the Manhattan trial of Thabo Sefolosha. Antic said he also was taken to the ground and handcuffed after he touched an officer on the shoulder and asked why his friend was being arrested.
Towering NBA forward Thabo Sefolosha called an NYPD cop a “midget’’ after the officer asked him to leave the scene of ex-Knicks star Chris Copeland’s stabbing in April, the policeman testily recalled in court Tuesday. “He said to me, ‘You’re mad you’re a midget — I’d be mad, too, if I were a midget,’ ” said 5-foot-7 rookie Officer JohnPaul Giacona, quoting the 6-foot-7 Sefolosha. “I personally thought that was uncalled for,” the officer sniffed.
Sefolosha’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, told jurors that his client was as far back from the scene as anyone once the cops arrived — and hurled the “midget” insult at Giacona only after the officer hissed at him, “Get off my block, this is my f–king block.” Cops say Sefolosha eventually lunged at an officer and resisted arrest.
A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black. Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8. Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police. A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.” Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.