Six British rugby players were arrested and charged with assaulting and robbing an off-duty cop and his friend in Manhattan this week. Officer Arif Tasoren, 33, claims the fight started when he and his friend were chatting to a woman at Murray Hill sports bar Mercury Bar around 4 a.m. on Friday. When Tasoren identified himself, one of the players allegedly responded, "We don’t care," while another allegely said, “Fuck the police!”
Tasoren suffered a fractured nose, a swollen jaw, and cuts to the inside of his mouth that required stitches. The players, who are all from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, have been identified as Iosefo Yavala, Iliakini Raderua, Thomas Shute, Felite Vunisarati, Mosese Kuruala and Joeli Raduva. The players are currently on an East Coast exhibition tour, and had just played the NYPD in a rugby match.
All six men were charged with assault; Yavala, a lance corporal, is also accused of stealing the cop’s cellphone during the incident. The rugby players, who are all of Fijian origin, claim the off-duty officer and his friend started the fight by referring to one of them as a “black bastard.” “They claim they did so [brawled] after he made a racist remark,” said defense lawyer Robert Fisher.