Indiana Pacers small forward Chris Copeland was the victim of a stabbing incident outside a New York City nightclub in the early morning hours of April 8.
Despite NBA players not getting in trouble with the law lately as much as their NFL counterparts, this just goes to show us how anybody can be a victim of a senseless crime.
The New York Daily News was the first to report on the incident on Wednesday. According to the paper, Copeland was outside the popular 1 OAK Club on W. 17th St. at 3:58 a.m. arguing with his female companion, Katrine Saltara, when 22-year-old Shevoy Murdock intervened.
A New York Daily News source says Murdock was being nosy around Copeland and Saltara.
“This guy is being nosy, sort of eavesdropping on the conversation,” he told the paper on Wednesday. “Copeland is like, ‘What the f— are you doing?’ It turns into an argument, then Murdock pulls out the knife.”
An ESPN source has a different take on what happened.
The source says Copeland and Saltara were talking outside the nightclub when a stranger, which he identifies as Shezoy Bleary, approached them. The ESPN update says “Copeland told the person he had to go, and the person took it the wrong way, then pulled out his knife and stabbed the Pacers forward in the stomach.”
Saltara then sprang to Copeland’s defense by jumping on Bleary’s back and then tried to choke him. However, Bleary wound up stabbing her in the arm and across the breast, per ESPN.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson’s source got into more detail:
A source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the knife hit Copeland’s diaphragm and that doctors wanted to clear the wound on Copeland’s elbow because they thought it could be susceptible to infection.
He also suffered lacerations to his left hand. Copeland likely will remain in the intensive care unit for two or three days, a source said.
The attacker’s friend, 23-year-old Catherine Somani, also got hurt during the incident. The New York Daily News source says Saltara pulled Somani’s hair, dragging the latter into the path of the assailant’s knife.
He accidentally stabbed her in the stomach as a result. Doctors treated Somani at Lennox Hill Hospital and released her a few hours later. On the other hand, both Copeland and Saltara were in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, per The New York Daily News.
Copeland’s driver was around to subdue the suspect and hold him until the authorities arrived, The New York Daily News report goes on to say.
The same update also adds Copeland didn’t stay at the nightclub for long. He ordered water before he left and then came back moments after he was stabbed around a block west of 1 OAK Club, asking for help.
ESPN also refuted earlier reports saying Saltara is Copeland’s wife. They were engaged last year but not anymore. A sourced tagged them as “good friends” who hung out at 1 OAK Club on Tuesday evening.
While the ESPN report identified the suspect as “Shezoy Bleary,” CBS New York identified him as “Shevoy Bleary Murdock.”
The Indiana Pacers issued a statement from team president Larry Bird about the Copeland incident on their official website on April 8:
We are aware the Chris Copeland was injured early this morning in New York City. We are still gathering information and will update when we know more. Our thoughts are with Chris and those injured.
The 31-year-old Copeland, a native of Orange, N.J., was in town for the Pacers’ game against the New York Knicks on April 8. Indiana beat New York, 102-86, per ESPN.
Atlanta Hawks Players Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic Also Involved
Atlanta Hawks teammates Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic were also present at the time of Copeland’s stabbing on early Wednesday morning.
According to The New York Daily News, both Sefolosha and Antic were “accused of disorderly conduct and other charges” for refusing to move as police were preparing their crime scene.
Aside from disorderly conduct, they were also charged with obstructing governmental authority, per ESPN. Their lawyer, Alex Spiro, maintains their innocence.
“They should not have been arrested,” Spiro told ESPN on Wednesday. “We fully expect the case to be dismissed.”
A police report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constituion’s Chris Vivlamore indicates officers at the scene of the crime asked Antic and Sefolosha six times to clear the area as they were setting up their crime scene. Vivlamore says both men “moved a couple of feet away but did not clear the area.”
Vivlamore’s police report also says Sefolosha, in particular, became belligerent toward authorities. In fact, it took four cops to arrest him and consequently suffered an ankle injury as a result, per The New York Daily News.
Both Hawks players, who said nothing as they were released from custody hours after the attack on Copeland, issued a joint statement (via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) saying 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.
Both Hawks players were in New York City for their team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets on April 8. Atlanta beat Brooklyn, 114-111, to solidify its hold on the East’s No. 1 seed, per ESPN. Sefolosha and Antic did not suit up for that game.
The Final Say
The simple takeaway for Chris Copeland is this: He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Scenario 1: Taking into consideration the account of the The New York Daily News, it would have been nearly impossible for Copeland to suppress his emotions if Murdock-Bleary really did intervene during the Pacers forward’s heated argument with his female companion.
That was simply none of Murdock-Bleary’s business, and he ended up in jail as a result of his actions.
Or it could be he tried to play the role of peacemaker. On the other hand, what kind of peacemaker would resort to wielding a knife to get his point across?
Scenario 2: The ESPN account claims Murdock-Bleary “took it the wrong way” when Copeland asked him to leave. If this were the case, Murdock-Bleary would have been wise to keep his emotions in check and let the whole thing slide.
We don’t know for sure if Murdock-Bleary was intoxicated or if he really is just a temperamental person by nature. In this instance, it would have been better to just ignore Copeland and leave the premises.
Here’s WTHR’s Bob Kravitz’s take on the whole Copeland issue:
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time a Pacers player was in trouble with the law, and we should quickly mention here Copeland is not in trouble with the law.
He might be crossways with the Pacers’ coaches and management who might not appreciate his nocturnal ways the evening before one of the biggest games of the year, but again, he was a victim here and so was his former fiancee, Katrine Saltara.
Absolutely. Copeland was a victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As for Sefolosha and Antic, they should have followed police instructions to the letter. If there’s no reason for them to be arrested, as their lawyer claims, well and good for them.
If their dispute helps dismiss the charges against them, well and good, too.
All we can hope for at this point is that both the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks receive any more unnecessary negative publicity. This applies more to the former, as they are trying to scrap and claw their way to a hard-earned playoff spot.
A distraction is the last thing Larry Bird’s team needs. Paul George told ESPN in the aftermath of the stabbing incident it wouldn’t be.
Let’s hope that will be the case.