The Toronto Raptors president who was accused by an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy of punching him after the NBA finals in Oakland last year has fired back with a countersuit, backed by video footage, accusing the deputy of assaulting him and lying about their encounter.
“Deputy Alan Strickland is perpetrating a fraud against Masai Ujiri, the Toronto Raptors, the NBA, and the California Division of Workers’ Compensation by falsely claiming he was injured,” lawyers for Ujiri and the Raptors said Tuesday in federal court in Oakland, where the original suit was filed.
Video evidence, including footage from Strickland’s body camera, showed that it was the officer, not Ujiri, who engaged in “an unprovoked and unnecessary use of excessive force,” the countersuit said. It also said Strickland had pleaded guilty in 2005 to a misdemeanor charge of insurance fraud for submitting a claim to his insurer after intentionally damaging his own vehicle.
Lawyers for Strickland could not be reached for comment.
The incident occurred in June 2019 after the Raptors won the league championship by defeating the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Strickland, assigned to a security detail, said Ujiri, whom he didn’t recognize, walked onto the court after the game carrying no credentials, ignored orders to stay off the court and then pushed him and punched him in the face.
The officer said he suffered a concussion and other injuries, was taken to an emergency room and was placed on disability leave. After Alameda County prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Ujiri, Strickland sued Ujiri, the Raptors and the NBA for $11 million in February.
Ujiri’s counterclaim said eyewitnesses and multiple videos contradict Strickland’s version of events.
Ujiri, who is Black, said he had walked past several security personnel on his way to the court, using a credential that gave him access, before encountering Strickland, who grabbed his arm, told him to “back the f— up” and pushed him in the chest. Ujiri said he calmly explained who he was and showed his credential, but the officer ignored it and shoved him again.
Ujiri said he then pushed Strickland once, in the chest. In his court filing, he said three nearby eyewitnesses have sworn under penalty of perjury that Ujiri never punched or touched Strickland’s face.
The filing included a photo of Strickland shortly after the incident with no apparent swelling on his face, contradicting the officer’s statement that he was taken to the hospital with a swollen face. Strickland’s body camera footage also disproves his assertion that Ujiri held his credentials out of Strickland’s view, Ujiri said.
“Sadly, Mr. Strickland’s dishonest account of the encounter is a 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,” the court filing said.
Ujiri is seeking only “nominal” damages for any harm he suffered, but also wants punitive damages for the deputy’s allegedly false and malicious claims.