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Newly released video footage shows a California sheriff’s deputy was “undeniably the initial aggressor” in a confrontation last year with an NBA team president, lawyers for the team official said Tuesday.
The incident took place June 13, 2019, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., just after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-100.
The video, running more than six minutes and including three edited clips, shows Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Strickland stopping Raptors president Masai Ujiri as Ujiri attempts to walk onto the basketball court to congratulate his team after the end of the game.
Strickland was attempting to check whether Ujiri had proper credentials authorizing him to step onto the court, FOX 2 of the San Francisco Bay Area reported.
Just moments earlier, Ujiri is seen showing his credentials to a security staffer and then tucking the credentials inside his jacket – giving the impression he believes he has received proper clearance.
Soon he reaches Strickland and the men exchange words, with Strickland appearing to try to block Ujiri from advancing to the court. Strickland is then seen shoving Ujiri and then shoving him a second time – prompting Ujiri to shove back.
“Back the f— up,” Strickland shouted to Ujiri, his lawyers claim, according to FOX 2.
“Why did you push me?” Ujiri shouts back. “I’m president of the Raptors.”
The altercation might have ended that day – but in February the sheriff’s deputy filed a federal lawsuit against Ujiri, the Raptors and the company that owns the team, claiming Ujiri shoved him and caused injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth – and fears permanent disability, FOX 2 reported.
Strickland also filed a worker’s compensation claim, alleging Ujiri “circumvented” a security checkpoint, tried to “storm” the court and struck the deputy with both fists.
In February, however, video shot by FOX 2 showed Strickland carrying boxes and using a power saw outside his home, the station reported.
Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri speaks to reporters in Toronto, May 29, 2019. (Associated Press)
In March, the station reported that the deputy had been convicted of insurance fraud in a 1994 case.
In their 108-page response to Strickland’s lawsuit, Ujiri’s lawyers claim the newly released video vindicates their client and shows the sheriff’s deputy initiated the physical confrontation.
"Mr. Strickland used unnecessary and excessive force," Ujiri’s lawyers claim. "There was no reason to view Mr. Ujiri as a threat to anyone and no reason for Mr. Strickland to curse at Mr. Ujiri and forcefully shove him as numerous witnesses observed."
Neither Strickland nor his attorney, David Mastagni, responded to a FOX 2 request for comment. Strickland has not been back to work in more than a year following the incident, FOX 2 reported.
Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly also had no comment, the station reported.
Strickland was paid $224,000 in 2018, not including benefits, the station reported.
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