Hoping to inspire others to follow in his path, NBA player Thabo Sefolosha announced Monday that he plans on filing a lawsuit in the aftermath of last spring’s nightclub fracas that left him injured and facing criminal charges.
Just about three weeks after he was found not guilty on all counts related to the incident, the Atlanta Hawks veteran told ESPN that he will sue the NYPD, the officers present at the fight and the city of New York. Sefolosha, who suffered a season-ending broken leg injury when police tackled him on that April 8 night, will reportedly seek about $50 million from the city and its boys in blue.
But that sum isn’t just for the damage inflicted upon him last spring. It’s also to “empower” others who have faced similar systemic injustices to fight back against such bias, a sentiment that echoes his legal team's prior argument that he was "targeted" in April because of his race.
"There's a lot of unknown about how this will affect me two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now," Sefolosha told ESPN’s Hannah Storm on Monday. "… I think it's the right approach to put lights in a situation like this and to ... fight back in a legal way and in a way that can empower, hopefully, more people."
While Sefolosha’s hiatus from NBA play will end on Tuesday night when Atlanta tips off its season against the Detroit Pistons, his lawyers will likely argue that the consequences of last April’s incident will last far longer. Sefolosha has already said that the officers’ tackle has rendered him “substantially disabled” with “permanent” injuries.
But as NBCSports pointed out, Sefolosha isn’t suing for the money. He’s suing to make a point and to take a stand, which he alluded to in the statement he released when he was acquitted earlier this month:
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. It pains me to think about all of the innocent people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.
Here’s to hoping that Sefolosha’s case makes some much needed improvement to our faulty, discriminatory legal system.
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