TWO international players for Murcia Basketball Club narrowly avoided arrest after police thought they were bike thieves and demanded to see their ID.
David Fatoki and Lleon Tillman, both US nationals, black Americans and professional players with the UCAM Murcia EBA, were stopped by police in Murcia city at around 01.30hrs yesterday (Friday), who demanded to know what they were doing 'messing about with' the public bicycles on the street rack.
The players showed their ID upon request along with their cards showing they were paid-up members of the local bike-hire scheme and had the right to use it.
One of them had an out-of-date passport – which the basketball club is in the process of renewing on his behalf – and the police told him they may have to keep him in a cell overnight.
Fortunately for Fatoki and Tillman, a person involved with the basketball club happened to be in the area at the time and saw what was happening, recognised the players, and explained who they were to the police.
Officers were said to have left at this point, but 'reluctantly'.
When quizzed later by a Murcia radio station, the police said they were 'working to prevent' bicycle thefts 'proactively', and that there was 'a certain profile' of bike theves.
They did not state further what this profile might be.
Lleon Tillman (pictured right with mayor of Murcia José Ballesta) played the part of Balthazar in the Three Kings' Epiphany parade in Murcia this year after a nationwide campaign called for the black king to be played by a 'real black man' rather than a white man with his face painted.
Photograph by Murcia city council