At around 4:00 AM on Wednesday morning, Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland and his girlfriend were stabbed outside a New York City nightclub during an altercation with a stranger armed with a switchblade. The injuries were not life threatening, although Copeland did suffer a broken elbow in the attack and has to undergo surgery.
A suspect, Shezoy Bleary, 22, was arrested.
Thabo Sefolosha and his teammate Pero Antic who were also on the scene with Copeland, and allegedly refused to leave the area when instructed to do so by the police.
A portion of the incident was captured on video that was obtained by celebrity news site TMZ. Prior to the start of the video, the two men were reportedly sitting on the curb and subdued, having been arrested for obstructing police during the stabbing investigation. The police claim they told each of the men to clear the scene six times, and that they would only “move a couple of feet away, but refuse to clear the area.”
It is unclear what caused the situation to escalate, but during the footage a scuffle breaks out between Thabo, who is a Swiss national, and six officers. One officer is seen grabbing the 6’7” ball player by his throat as two other officers take him down. Thabo suffered a fractured tibia during the altercation and will not be able to play for the remainder of the basketball season.
Onlookers can be heard on video cursing at the police in french.
The two NBA players were both charged with resisting arrest and obstructing government administration. They were released on their own recognizance and are due back in court on June 16.
The arrested players have issued a joint statement:
“As members of the Atlanta Hawks, we hold ourselves to a high standard and take our roles as professionals very seriously. We will contest these charges and look forward to communicating the facts of the situation at the appropriate time. We apologize to our respective families, teammates, and the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon them. We are unable to provide further comment as this is an ongoing legal matter.”