Video appears to show deputy first shoved Raptors president
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A new video released by the attorneys of Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri appears to show an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy initially shoved him twice leading to an altercation moments after his team had defeated the Golden State Warriors in last year’s NBA championship.
The Raptors had just won their first title at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 13, 2019, when Ujiri went onto the court to join his celebrating team.
Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in February that he stopped Ujiri because he didn’t provide the proper credential, leading to a shoving match that was partially captured on video. Strickland alleged Ujiri hit him “in the face and chest with both fists,” tried to go around him and repeatedly ignored orders to stop.
Strickland’s body camera video released Tuesday by Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, the law firm representing Ujiri, shows the Raptors president walking while pulling credentials out of his suit’s breast pocket and the deputy aggressively shoving him twice shortly before Ujiri shoves him back. The footage ends shortly after that.
The Raptors said in a statement they stand by Ujiri and point out the video shows Strickland’s accusations are “baseless and entirely without merit.”
“We believe this video evidence shows exactly that — Masai was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions,” the team said.
“While Masai has the full backing of Raptors and MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment) as he fights this injustice, we are aware that not all people have similar support and resources. This is a spurious legal action that MLSE, the NBA, and especially Masai should not be facing,” it added.
In a counter-claim filed Tuesday, Ujiri’s attorneys said the footage shows Strickland was “undeniably the initial aggressor” in the confrontation and that the new evidence will vindicate Ujiri’s rights “as a victim of unreasonable force, assault, and battery at the hands of Mr. Strickland,” the East Bay Times reported.
Mastagni Holstedt, A.P.C. law firm, which represents Alameda County sheriff’s deputies, did not respond to a request for comment.
In a statement Wednesday, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said the department had closed out its part in the case last July. Kelly distinguished between the public case, which ended with a citation hearing last November, and the private matter of Strickland’s suit against Ujiri.
“There’s been a snippet of video released publicly that doesn’t tell the story of the entire investigation,” Kelly said. “That story will have to come out through the process. We stand by our original statements.”
Kelly confirmed that Strickland remains employed by the department and said the deputy is on leave recovering from injuries sustained during the incident.