A California deputy who claimed to have been brutally attacked by the president of the Toronto Raptors last year was proven to be the aggressor after videos of the incident were released Tuesday.
Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland was working security during an NBA Championship game between the Raptors and Golden State Warriors on June 13, 2019. The Raptors had just won the championship game and team president Masai Ujiri was making his way from the locker room tunnel to the floor of the arena to accept the trophy.
Bodycam video shows Ujiri was in the process of pulling out his credentials from inside his suit coat when Strickland shoved him hard, sending him reeling backwards.
“Back the f_ck up, man!” the deputy yelled at Ujiri.
With a shocked expression on his face, Ujiri attempted a second time to make his way onto the floor but the deputy shoved him back again.
That was when Ujiri shoved the deputy back.
Overhead security video with no audio shows a crowd of Raptor associates stepping between the two after Ujiri’s shove, then whisking him away as Strickland appears to want to go after him but is unable to get to him because of the crowd. He told another cop to go after him but that cop was also unable to get to him.
Strickland initially claimed he suffered a concussion and the sheriff’s office tried to file charges of battery on a law enforcement officer against Ujiri but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges.
Strickland then filed a lawsuit in February against Ujiri, claiming the following:
At or around 9:00 P.M., Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND was at his assigned post when he saw an unidentified male wearing a dark suit and neck tie approaching his post. Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND later learned the identity of the male in the dark suit and neck tie was MASAI UJIRI.
MASAI UJIRI had no visible credentials, as was required by NBA security regulations. MASAI UJIRI attempted to circumvent the security checkpoint and evade Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND and access the basketball court without showing security personnel, including ALAN STRICKLAND, his credential. MASAI UJIRI repeatedly ignored Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND’s orders to stop and return to the arena security official.
MASAI UJIRI then attacked Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND and hit him in the face and chest with both fists. The force of from MASAI UJIRI’s attack sent Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND backwards several feet. And/or MASAI UJIRI negligently hit Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND and hit him in the face and chest with both fists.
At no point during this confrontation between MASAI UJIRI and Plaintiff ALAN STRICKLAND did MASAI UJIRI stop trying to advance towards the court or present his credentials for inspection as required by NBA security regulations.
On Tuesday, Ujiri responded by filing a counterclaim which is a little more truthful.
As Mr. Ujiri attempted to make his way onto the court to join his team and fulfill his duties as Raptors’ President, he encountered Plaintiff Alan Strickland. Mr. Strickland was working as a security guard at the game. As Mr. Ujiri attempted to enter the court, Mr. Strickland assaulted him, forcefully shoving him back once and then twice. Mr. Ujiri then shoved Mr. Strickland in the chest. Other than the 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. Mr. Ujiri was eventually escorted to the court where he joined his team, accepted the championship trophy, and gave a live on camera interview.
The entire altercation could have been avoided had the deputy simply asked Ujiri for his credentials rather than shove him without warning but that would probably take de-escalation skills which is lacking in most law enforcement agencies across the country.
Read Strickland’s lawsuit here and Ujiri’s counterclaim here.