Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha will go to trial Oct. 5, determined to prove his innocence in a case stemming from an incident outside a New York nightclub.
Prosecutors dropped all charges against former Hawk Pero Antic in a Wednesday morning hearing in Manhattan. But they offered Sefolosha only a conditional dismissal, which he turned down in favor of going to trial to seek full exoneration.
Sefolosha suffered a broken right fibula and ligament damage during the incident and while he no longer needs a walking boot or crutches, he has yet to be cleared for basketball activities. He said Wednesday that he’s not sure he’ll be ready for the start of training camp later this month, but remains hopeful of being able to play when the Hawks open the season Oct. 27 against Detroit.
Sefolosha has said his injuries were caused by New York City police, who came to the scene after Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland was stabbed in the abdomen during a dispute at the nightclub 1OAK in the early morning hours of April 8. Sefolosha was charged with one count of resisting arrest and one count of disorderly conduct, while Antic faced charges of disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment for interfering with Sefolosha’s arrest.
In New York State Criminal Court on Tuesday, prosecutors said that their investigation showed Antic told Sefolosha to “calm down” and that because the officers suffered no injury, they were dismissing the Antic charges “in the interest of justice.”
For Sefolosha, though, they offered only an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD), asking him to perform a day of community service and agreeing to dismiss and seal the file in six months as long as he avoided further trouble. Sefolosha declined that offer in favor of either a complete dismissal or a trial before a jury.
“We appreciate the District Attorney’s decision to drop charges [against Antic] and he looks forward to returning to basketball and his family,” said attorney Alex Spiro, who represents both players. “We firmly believe Thabo’s case should be dismissed, too. He maintains his complete innocence.”
Antic, who spent the last two seasons with the Hawks, left to sign with Fenerbahce of the Turkish league in June.
Sefolosha has not yet filed a civil suit in the case, but could still do so. His immediate concerns have been to recover from his injury and to get the criminal case resolved in his favor.
The Hawks begin training camp on Sept. 28 and Sefolosha admitted that the timing of the trial was “not ideal.” Spiro asked the judge to consider a quicker trial date, but scheduling issues prevented that.
Prosecutors did agree Tuesday to allow Spiro to hear audiotapes from the internal investigation of the arresting officers by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Spiro filed a subpoena in June asking for extensive personnel records from the officers involved in the arrest, but a judge has yet to act on that request.