NEW YORK (AP) — Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks surely suffered when police officers broke his leg arresting him outside a Manhattan nightclub in 2015. He needed surgery and sat out while teammates went deep in the NBA playoffs.
But the city’s decision to settle his wrongful arrest lawsuit Wednesday for $4 million still raised eyebrows. That’s more than the city has paid out in some of its most notorious police brutality cases.
Several unarmed men shot to death by New York City police received less money.
Legal experts say the large settlement is a reflection of lost earnings potential as a professional athlete, not any judgment that his leg was worth more than a man’s life.
“His injury probably shortens a career with significant dollars attached to it,” said attorney Michael Duffy, who specializes in malpractice and other litigation but had no role in the case.
Sefalosha, a 10-year veteran of the league, was acquitted of charges he disobeyed officers’ orders to leave the area around the club following the nonfatal stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland. This year he has played 60 of 77 games for the Hawks, averaging 7.3 points a game, which is slightly higher than his career average.
Here is a look at some other notable settlements of police excessive-force cases in New York, all involving black men like Sefolosha:
RAMARLEY GRAHAM: The unarmed 18-year-old was trying to flush marijuana down a toilet in his home when an officer barged into the bathroom and fatally shot him in 2012. The city paid the family $3.9 million.
AKAI GURLEY: The 28-year-old was killed in 2014 by a ricocheting bullet when a police officer, patrolling an apartment building with his gun drawn, was startled and fired into a darkened stairwell. The city settled with his family for $4.1 million.
ERIC GARNER: The 43-year-old father of six died in 2014 after being placed into an illegal chokehold by an officer trying to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes. The city paid his family $5.9 million.
SEAN BELL: A groom-to-be, the 23-year-old Bell died in a hail of 50 police bullets fired into his car in 2006 as he left his bachelor party at a bar. Officers mistakenly thought they saw a gun. The city paid his estate $3.3 million. Another man in the car who was shot 17 times was paid $3 million. A third victim got $900,000.
ABNER LOUIMA: The Haitian immigrant was badly beaten and sodomized with a broomstick in a police station in 1997 by officers in an attack that damaged his colon and bladder. The city and police union agreed to pay $8.7 million.
OUSMANE ZONGO: The 43-year-old artist was working on restoring African artifacts in 2003 when he was shot and killed by a police officer raiding a warehouse, looking for counterfeit goods. His family settled for $3 million.
PATRICK DORISMOND: The 26-year-old was working at a security guard at a nightclub in 2000 when he was fatally shot during a scuffle with undercover police officers who had asked him where they could buy drugs. His estate was paid $2.3 million.
AMADOU DIALLO: An unarmed African immigrant, the 22-year-old Diallo was shot to death in the vestibule of a Bronx apartment building in 1999 by officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. His mother received a $3 million settlement from the city.