Ice Creamed

Paradise Valley police picked the wrong black man to stop

"I'm standing there, hands in the air and because my middle finger won't bend, it's just standing up straight for everyone to see," he says. "Then I feel this tap on my shoulder. It's this officer who says, Look, you don't have to be a jackass.'"

So Oziwo brings his hand down and gives the officer a close-up of his finger.

Weeks later, the Globetrotters receive word that one of their players had been detained for harassing airport security. Oziwo was let go from the Globetrotters, even though the officer and everyone involved later admitted the whole incident was a mistake.

Okeme Oziwo in his Globetrotters days.
Okeme Oziwo in his Globetrotters days.

"I was damaged goods by then," he says. "It was going to be over one way or another."

Which marked the end of his basketball career. Oziwo will soon return to ASU to begin working toward his Ph.D. in social work. He wants to have the education in place to start up a community program for underprivileged kids.

But while he's finished with the Globetrotters, he's not finished with the Paradise Valley police.

His lawsuit seeks damages for assault, false arrest and unreasonable seizure, all charges the Paradise Valley police will fight.

"You know, I would maybe expect that kind of thing to happen here in L.A.," Oziwo says. "But nothing like that had ever happened to me in Arizona. Well, until I went to Paradise Valley."

E-mail, or call 602-744-6549.

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