Atlanta Hawks Player Faces Heated Trial, Racial Bias

Gavel,Law theme, mallet of judgeWhile nearly 40 million people go camping every year, that number does not include the countless basketball fans that camp outside of stadiums around the country, waiting for the big game. Sometimes the pressure of being in the sports-spotlight can be a little too much, according to a recent story from The New York Times. The story details the trial of Thabo Sefolosha, a forward for the Atlanta Hawks, who was charged with resisting arrest, as well as police investigation interference.

The scene took place outside a Chelsea nightclub called 1 Oak, where Sefolosha and a teammate, Pero Antic, were taken by police for interfering with an investigation. The pair were not directly involved with the real event, where an unnamed man from the club stabbed Chris Copeland from the Indiana Pacers.

However, the New York Police Department asserted that Sefolosha and Antic were trying to prevent them from moving the nearly 100 people that had gathered there. They also claimed that Sefolosha struggled to resist the arrest.

The jury has been discussing the issue of race as it pertains to Sefolosha’s case, since he is a black man and all of his arresting officers were white. Sefolosha’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, stands by the bias.

“Do you think it’s possible that if a white cop sees an African-American man who is large, that something happens in his mind that is a little bit different than if he sees me in a suit?” said Spiro, who is white. “We all sort of know that’s a reality.”

Spiro also pointed out that technically, Sefolosha hadn’t actually committed a crime to begin with.

“Let’s say he was fresh to the officers, let’s say he was mouthy. The question isn’t whether he was perfect according to the officers. The question is whether he committed a crime.”

Sefolosha maintained several injuries from the interaction with police, and if he is acquitted, has substantial grounds for a lawsuit against the city.

The case also raises some questions regarding use of force by NYPD officers. However, Commissioner Bratton of the NYPD says that efforts are already underway to define and track the use of force after recent public demand for more oversight.

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