A new video released by the defense team of Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, last year’s NBA Executive of the Year, shows that an altercation between Ujiri and a member of the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, Alan Strickland, was started by Strickland.
The incident took place at Oracle Arena in Oakland last June, just after Game 6 ended. The Raptors had completed their upset of the Warriors in the NBA Finals and Ujiri was making his way toward the court for the customary postgame celebration, during which the team would receive the Larry O’Brien trophy. Ujiri, wearing a suit, was reaching into his inside pocket to pull out his NBA pass, and was walking as he approached the stanchion under the basket.
Ujiri’s pass was not all the way out but before he had a chance to produce it, the video showed that Strickland grabbed Ujiri by the lapel and pushed him back. When Ujiri protested Strickland putting his hands on him, he was again shoved backward, this time harder. Ujiri also shoved Strickland but only after he’d been twice shoved himself.
Here’s the video, from Diamond Leung of The Athletic:
Masai Ujiri's legal team has released body camera footage of his encounter with a security worker at Oracle Arena after the Raptors won the NBA championship. pic.twitter.com/56XWMpZy0P
— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) August 19, 2020
Cop Filed Charges Against Ujiri in February
The video release is part of a countersuit Ujiri and the Raptors have filed against Strickland for his conduct on that day last June.
Strickland filed suit against Ujiri in February, claiming that Ujiri was the aggressor in the incident and that he had been assaulted. In Strickland’s suit, it was claimed that the officer, according to ESPN, “suffered injury to his body, health, strength, activity and person, all of which have caused and continue to cause Plaintiff great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.”
Ujiri’s countersuit attempts to show that Strickland lied about the origin and nature of his encounter with Ujiri, who was originally under threat of being charged with battery in the case. The district attorney in Oakland, though, dropped the possibility of any charges against Ujiri last fall, and the incident would have wilted from there if not for Strickland’s lawsuit.
Alternate Video Shows Wide View od Ujiri Incident
Another video, which shows a fuller, wide-lens, high-definition view of the incident, was obtained by Fox 2 KTVU in Oakland on Tuesday, and is just as damning for Strickland.
In that view, Ujiri can be seen coming down the ramp in the right corner of Oracle Arena and striding toward Strickland, who points to Ujiri as he is approaching. Ujiri is shoved twice and Strickland is eventually pulled away by an onlooker as Ujiri is ushered onto the court.
The attorneys for Ujiri say that the video shows Strickland was, “undeniably the aggressor” in the incident. According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in Oakland, Ujiri’s lawyers claim that:
As Mr. Ujiri attempted to enter the court, Mr. Strickland grabbed him by the arm, told him to ‘back the f*** up,’ and forcefully shoved him back once and then twice. After being cursed at and shoved forcefully twice, Mr. Ujiri pushed Mr. Strickland in the chest. Other than these shoves, the two men did not have any further physical contact with each other. The entire encounter between Mr. Strickland and Mr. Ujiri was brief—approximately 11 seconds as shown on film.
Ujiri’s lawyers also said the video debunks Strickland’s claim that after he pushed Mr. Ujiri the first time, Ujiri re-approached in ‘a quick and aggressive manner.’
“This is false,” the countersuit says. “The video evidence (arena footage and body camera footage) shows that after Mr. Strickland forcefully shoved Mr. Ujiri the first time, Mr. Ujiri held up his credential… calmly asked Mr. Strickland why he had pushed him, and calmly informed Mr. Strickland he was the Raptors’ President. Mr. Strickland’s characterization of ‘quick and aggressive’ is one of many examples of his hyperbole.”