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Lawsuit NBA star Thabo Sefolosha gets $4m in NYPD settlement

Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha in action against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 11, 2017


(Keystone)

Swiss basketball star Thabo Sefolosha, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks, is due to receive a $4m pay-out from the New York after reaching a settlement agreement with five New York City police officers he sued, claiming false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

Sefolosha will receive the pay-out in exchange for dropping his April 2016 police brutality lawsuit against the NYPD officers. The New York City Law Department confirmed the $4 million (CHF4 million) settlement for Sefolosha.

The Swiss basketball player settled his lawsuit after he was acquitted of criminal charges stemming from a police fracas outside a Manhattan nightclub that left him with a broken leg and the end of his NBA season.

Sefolosha, who was acquitted of all charges by a jury in October 2015, was arrested for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration, for allegedly interfering with the set-up of a crime scene outside of 1Oak nightclub in Chelsea, New York, the previous April.

Sefolosha had been at the nightclub and was leaving after former New York Knick Chris Copeland and his wife were stabbed outside.

The Swiss basketball star blamed five officers from the NYPD for breaking his leg after they forced him to the ground and arrested him. The officers “attacked and jumped” on Sefolosha and one used a baton to hit him during the arrest, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan against the city and five police officers.

Sefolosha said he was left with a broken leg during the struggle, causing him to miss the playoffs. The Swiss national was acquitted of misdemeanour criminal charges.

“This settlement is not a concession that Mr Sefolosha was blameless in this matter and there was no admission of liability by the defendants,” the city law department said in a statement. However, it said “in light of the gravity of his injuries, the potential impact on his career as a professional athlete and the challenge for a jury in sorting out the facts in this incident, the resolution of the case was in the best interests of the city.”

Sefolosha became the first Swiss basketball player to play in the NBA when he was recruited by the Chicago Bulls in 2006. Born in Vevey in French-speaking Switzerland, Sefolosha has also played for the Oklahoma Thunder and in the Turkish Basketball League for Fenerbahçe.

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