Calif. deputy sues Toronto Raptors exec for alleged assault

Calif. deputy sues Toronto Raptors exec for alleged assault

The deputy alleges he was struck in the chest and jaw during a fight at the 2019 NBA Finals

Katie Dowd
San Francisco Chronicle

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. — A deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is suing Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and the team for an assault he alleges occurred during the 2019 NBA Finals.

The officer, identified in the lawsuit as Alan Strickland, claims the altercation happened after the Raptors clinched Game 6 over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. When Ujiri attempted to get on the court to celebrate, Strickland stopped him to see his credential. Department spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told the Globe and Mail last year that Ujiri did not show the necessary purple badge to get on the court for the postgame celebration. Strickland said Ujiri then tried to shove past him.

Strickland and Ujiri engaged in a scuffle, during which Strickland claims he was struck in the chest and jaw. The lawsuit, which also names Strickland’s wife as a co-plaintiff, alleges “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.”

The suit claims Strickland has a permanent disability after the incident; he is seeking punitive damages, among other financial demands.

Strickland’s civil suit names Ujiri, the Raptors, the NBA and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Raptors’ ownership group. It seeks damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and loss of consortium. According to ESPN, the suit says more could have been done to protect Strickland, including posting “signs warning of danger, including the danger of Masai Ujiri.”

Four witnesses who spoke with The Globe in 2019 all said they did not see Ujiri hit Strickland’s face. The sheriff’s department said video footage from the stadium confirms Strickland’s version of events, although the entire video has not been made public.

The sheriff’s office launched an investigation in 2019 and recommended the Alameda County District Attorney charge Ujiri with battery of a peace officer. The D.A. declined to press charges and instead recommended meditation between the officer and Ujiri.

Strickland’s suit requests a jury trial. It was filed in California last week.

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