Recently released bodycam footage shows Masai Ujiri, the president of the Toronto Raptors, was pushed twice by a sheriff's deputy while trying to get on the court after his team won the NBA championship
The body camera footage was released by Ujiri’s legal team in a countersuit filed this week against San Francisco Bay Area sheriff's deputy, Alan Strickland. Strickland previously was suing Ujiri for (widely disputed) injuries he claimed to have suffered when pushed by the NBA executive.
The incident came minutes after the Toronto Raptors won their first-ever NBA championship in 2019 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, with Ujiri widely credited as the savvy architect who built the team.
The bodycam footage shows Ujiri walking up to the court and putting his pass into his coat while in front of Strickland. At this point, Strickland pushes Ujiri and tells him to “back the fuck up.” Ujiri asks Strickland why he pushed him and says he’s the president of the Raptors when Strickland pushes him again. At this point, Ujiri pushes him back.
On Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors, who have been very vocal in support of Black Lives Matter, put out a statement in support of Ujiri.
"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,” it reads. “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 incident resulted in the sheriff's department requesting Ujiri be charged with battery of a peace officer as they claimed he hit Strickland in the jaw. After a months-long investigation police would decide not to charge Ujiri.
Earlier this year Strickland filed a federal lawsuit against Ujiri in which he claimed he was hit in the chest and face by Ujiri’s fist and claimed he acted with “an evil motive amounting to malice.” According to KTVU News, Strickland earned US$224,000 in 2018 and claimed he suffered a “shock to the nervous system” from the push that will leave him with a “permanent disability.” In March, KTVU News reported that Strickland had been arrested and convicted of insurance fraud in 1994.
“(The) narrative that has become somewhat familiar: a law enforcement officer using their position, engages in unjustified violence against a peaceful individual, then lies about the encounter by characterizing the victim as the aggressor,” reads the lawsuit.
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