The NYPD says it has launched an internal investigation into the arrest of the Atlanta Hawks player who broke a bone while being detained by police officers following last week's stabbing of an ex-Knicks player outside a popular Chelsea nightclub, authorities say.
In a statement Tuesday, the NYPD said, "The matter has been referred to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation."
Thabo Sefolosha fractured his fibula and suffered ligament damage during the arrest outside 1OAK on West 17th Street Wednesday and will miss the rest of the team's season, the Hawks said.
In a statement Tuesday, Sefolosha said he could not discuss the case "on advice of counsel," but thanked advocates for their support in what he called "a difficult time."
"I will simply say that I am in great pain, have experienced a significant injury and that the injury was caused by the police," Sefolosha said. "I am extremely disappointed that I will not be able to join my teammates on the court during the playoffs and apologize to them for any distraction this incident has caused."
Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic were both arrested on obstructing governmental administration and other charges after they allegedly blocked police who were attempting to set up a crime scene after Pacers forward Chris Copeland was stabbed during a dispute outside the club. Both players have said they plan to fight the charges.
League sources previously told ESPN the NBA players' union is looking into the arrests, which were captured on video that was later posted to the gossip website TMZ. The union said it is concerned about why Sefolosha's injury, apparently sustained during the arrest, went untreated overnight.
Photos of the pair walking out of a police precinct showed Sefolosha wearing some sort of makeshift splint, and he was seen limping during a court appearance.
"The players' union is concerned about the circumstances of Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic's arrest and is doing its own investigation of the situation," NBPA spokeswoman Tara Greco told ESPN. "The union was fully engaged in supporting all three players in court and in the precinct this week, and will continue to stay engaged as each situation evolves."
Sefolosha and Antic were both in town for a game later that day against the Nets; Copeland and the Pacers were set to play the Knicks. Antic said Friday that they weren't at the nightclub with Copeland.
"We don't have nothing to do with what happened with that," Antic said. "We weren't together. We didn't even see the guy and whatever happened, happened way before."
Copeland was released from Bellevue Hospital after being treated there for several days. He was stabbed in the abdomen and elbow after leaving the nightclub with girlfriend Katrine Saltara, who was also stabbed.
Police arrested 22-year-old Shevoy Bleary on assault and weapons possession charges in the attack. He was arraigned last week; his lawyer had no immediate comment after the hearing.
Sources tell NBC 4 New York that Copeland and Saltara were arguing outside the club when a woman approached and tried to intervene. Copeland then began arguing with Bleary, who also walked up to them, and Saltara and the other woman tried to break up the fight.
That's when Bleary allegedly pulled out a knife and started slashing people, cutting the 31-year-old basketball player, his girlfriend and the other woman, believed to be a friend of Bleary's.
The second woman was stabbed in the chest and the abdomen; she needed 22 stitches. Bleary allegedly told investigators he had tried to push the woman who was with him away and she ended up getting slashed.