Newly released video footage appears to show that a sheriff’s deputy may have been the aggressor in an incident involving Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri after the team clinched its first NBA title last summer.
The incident occurred June 13, 2019, immediately after the Raptors’ NBA Finals-clinching victory over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland. As Ujiri was making his way to the team’s celebration on the floor, he was stopped by Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Strickland.
In a lawsuit filed in February, Strickland claimed Ujiri wasn’t carrying proper credentials and was ignoring orders to stay off the court. Ujuri then struck Strickland “in the face and chest with both fists,” causing “physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries,” according to the lawsuit.
A counter lawsuit _ filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland by Ujiri, the Raptors, the NBA and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment _ calls Strickland’s version of the incident “a complete fabrication.”
The countersuit includes body camera footage that appears to show Ujiri trying to make his way to the floor while reaching in a pocket for his credential. He is then apparently shoved by Strickland, who is also heard using profanity while telling the Raptors executive to “back the … up.”
Ujiri can be heard saying, “I’m the president of the Raptors” and appears to be holding up his credential when Strickland shoves him again. The body camera video ends shortly after that part of the encounter.
Additional footage, which appears to come from an overhead security camera, indicates that Ujiri then shoved Strickland. The two of them were eventually separated.
The countersuit claims that the video evidence “shows Mr. Strickland subjected Mr. Ujiri to an unprovoked and unnecessary use of excessive force.”
The Raptors released a statement Tuesday in support of Ujiri.
“We have always maintained that the claims made against Masai are baseless and entirely without merit,” the organization stated. “We believe this video evidence shows exactly that _ Masai was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions.”
By Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times