Hawks players Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha were arrested in New York early Wednesday morning and face three misdemeanor charges, including obstructing governmental administration.
The two were present when Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland and two women were stabbed during an argument outside the nightclub 1 OAK around 4 a.m., just hours after the Hawks played a home game in Atlanta.
According to police reports, Copeland and another woman were arguing outside the nightclub when a male bystander interfered. Shezoy Bleary, 22, allegedly pulled a knife and stabbed Copeland, Katrine Saltara, 28, and Catherine Somani, 53. Saltara, who lives in New York, and Copeland had been engaged, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The Pacers released a statement Wednesday stating that Copeland was stabbed in the left elbow and abdomen and was in stable condition following surgery.
Bleary was arrested and charged with felony assault and criminal possession of weapon.
The players were in New York as the Hawks played the Nets and the Pacers played the Knicks on Wednesday. The Hawks arrived following Tuesday’s home game against the Suns, getting into the city at approximately 2 a.m.
Antic and Sefolosha issued a joint statement and indicated they will contest the charges.
“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.”
According to the police report, Antic, 33, also was charged with one count of disorderly conduct and one count of second-degree harassment. Sefolosha, 30, was charged with one count of resisting arrest and one count of disorderly conduct. The two were arraigned shortly before 3 p.m. and released on their own recognizance. They have a court date of June 18.
According to the police report, officers six times asked Antic and Sefolosha to clear the area to establish a crime scene before they were arrested. The report states the two moved a couple of feet away but did not clear the area.
According to the report, Sefolosha then charged officers in an “aggressive manner.”
Police officer Johnpaul Giancona wrote: “When I approached the defendant to place him under arrest for the above described conduct, I observed the defendant flail his arms, twist his body, kick his legs, and struggle against me making it difficult for me to place handcuffs on him and complete the arrest. It took four officers to place the defendant in handcuffs.”
In regard to Antic, the report states that as Sefolosha was being arrested by an officer, he “grabbed his left shoulder, making it difficult to assist in the arrest.”
In a video obtained by Channel 2 Action News, Sefolosha had a pronounced limp as he was escorted to a police van to be transported for arraignment.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Sefolosha will be evaluated by doctors for an ankle injury.
The NBA issued the following statement: “We are aware of the arrest of two Atlanta Hawks players early this morning and are in contact with the Hawks organization along with local law enforcement to obtain more information.”
Budenholzer said he had no information about possible disciplinary action.
“There has been a lot of communication with the league today,” Budenholzer said. “I think we’ll continue to gather facts and continue to gather information and work together. As of now, there is nothing.”
Budenholzer held a brief team meeting before Wednesday’s game to inform players of the incident.
“Coach held a brief meeting and said let the legal system play out,” DeMarre Carroll said. “We are going to stay focused. We’ve been getting through obstacles all year. This is just another obstacle.”
The nightclub issued a statement saying it cooperated with the police, including turning over surveillance video. The statement added the incident occurred outside the view of cameras.
The arrests came hours after the Hawks set a franchise record with their 58th regular-season victory. The Hawks have five games remaining in the regular season, heading into Wednesday’s game against the Nets, before they enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
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