Because, it happened to him in 2015, when he sustained New York City police injuries and was wrongly arrested.
Sefolosha, 36, is a 14-year-old NBA veteran from Switzerland who spent this season playing for the Houston Rockets before the Covid-19 pandemic put the season on hold. He told CNN on Wednesday in Atlanta that he could be seen in George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.
“I think every black person in America, in my opinion, from the 14 years I’ve lived here, can feel that way,” Sefolosha said. “It’s the ultimate abuse. … I think it’s just an abuse of power that you’ve seen in preschool, high school rape and it’s at such a high level that people have to be fed and something has to be done about it.”
In the early hours of April 8, 2015, Sefolosha, then from the Atlanta Hawks, and then-teammate, center Pero Antic, from Macedonia, were arrested near the sting site of then-Indiana Pacers striker Chris Copeland and two women outside a New York nightclub.
Police said Sefolosha and Antic were not involved in the stabbing incident, but are charged with misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration.
Shortly after the incident, TMZ released a video showing a group of police officers arresting Sefolosh 6-legged and taking him to the ground. It also shows that an officer within that group pulled out a bat and extended it next to him, but what could have caused the injury is not clear in the video. Sefolosha seems to be limping as the cops lead him.
Sefolosha, who suffered damage to his fibula and ligament at the time of his arrest, said after the incident that police had inflicted his injuries. He was forced to miss the rest of the 2015 regular season and the entire postseason.
A New York jury found Sefolosha not guilty of three misdemeanor charges. The charges against Antic, who is white, have been dropped. Sefolosha later filed a lawsuit against five police officers for four million dollars.
“Everything happened so fast that at this point I was just what I was, really, out of respect and at the same time defending the position I had the right to defend,” Sefolosha told CNN. “Everything escalated so fast that it was hard to just – look back, just sit in a cell and say,‘ Okay, I didn’t do anything wrong. “
He later said: “Really, it’s high-level violence. And it frustrates everyone. I think you only see it now with the protests and the level of anger that people have. I think that’s enough.”
As for why things escalated in his case that night in New York, Sefolosha said it was because of “poor training”.
“The ego bothers you, you know, and I think that’s one of the main problems when you’re a cop,” Sefolosha said. “A lot is required of you as a civil servant, as someone who is here to defend the community. And I think that should be understood with pride and with more humanity, no matter how much work we do here for people and realizing that everyone is going through a lot.
“But as an officer, you’re the one who has the training. You’re the one who’s supposed to calm the situation down here and figure out what’s going on in a split second, you know? And it’s too often not met.”
Sefolosha asked what went through his head when he saw Floyd’s video.
“Anger,” Sefolosha said. “And the feeling of just being completely disconnected. How can a man do that to someone else and just sit on his neck for nine minutes? Deliberately killing someone like this in broad daylight. And anger spreads to other officers who are just watching. Like, what’s yours purpose in life? Why did you decide to become a cop? It’s all in the question right now. That’s why I can’t really blame people who are just angry on the street,
“I just wish the leadership was a little simplified and people know exactly what the message is, what they’re fighting for and what exactly they want after the protest. We can protest for six years. You protest, and then something has to come. In the end, you know? But what is it?” the message? What is the exact ultimate goal of all this? “