Video released in confrontation between Raptors president, LEO at NBA Finals

Sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland sued Raptors president Masai Ujiri for assault over the confrontation at the 2019 NBA Finals


By George Kelly
East Bay Times

OAKLAND, Calif. — New video released Tuesday by a Peninsula law firm appears to show an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy initially striking Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri moments after his team had defeated the Golden State Warriors to wrap up last year’s NBA championship at Oracle Arena.

The two men were involved in a scuffle shortly after the deciding Game 6 of the Finals ended, with Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri attempting to make his way onto the court to congratulate coaches and players before encountering sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland, who was working at the arena as a security guard.

Initial accounts provided by sheriff’s officials said Ujiri struck Strickland in the face, with an amended statement by an observer days later complicating observers’ understanding of events.

More than a month later, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office received reports about the incident but officials decided last November not to file charges against Ujiri.

But in February, Strickland decided to sue Ujiri for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and two counts of negligence, alleging that he had suffered “physical, mental, emotional and economic” injuries in the confrontation’s wake.

Tuesday’s release of security-camera footage by Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, the Burlingame-based law firm representing Ujiri, appeared to depict the incident more clearly and drew support from the Raptors. The footage shows Strickland shoving Ujiri in the chest twice before the Raptors president shoved back.

“We are mindful this remains before the courts, but we have always maintained that the claims made against Masai 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,” Raptors communications director Jennifer Quinn said in a statement Tuesday night.

“The events of that evening cast a pall over what should have been a night of celebration, and the year since. While Masai has the full backing of Raptors and [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.”

In documents filed Tuesday, Ujiri’s lawyers cited what they describe as recently obtained discovery. including Strickland’s own body-worn camera footage, as motive for a counter-claim to Strickland’s suit next month before U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Rogers to “vindicate his rights as a victim of unreasonable force, assault, and battery at the hands of Mr. Strickland.”

A spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return comment, and Mastagni Holstedt, A.P.C. law firm, which represents Alameda County sheriff’s deputies, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

©2020 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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