Sheriff’s deputy drops lawsuit against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri


OAKLAND, Calif. — A law enforcement officer in California who sued the president of the Toronto Raptors over a 2019 scuffle following the team’s NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors dropped his lawsuit Wednesday.

The Raptors had just won their first title at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 13, 2019, when team president Masai Ujiri went onto the court to join his celebrating team.

Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland claimed in a federal lawsuit filed last February that he stopped Ujiri because he didn’t provide the proper credential, leading to a shoving match that was partially captured on video. Strickland alleged Ujiri hit him “in the face and chest with both fists,” tried to go around him and repeatedly ignored orders to stop.

The lawsuit claimed Strickland suffered “physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries,” including lost wages, lost opportunity for financial gain and future earning capacity. It also cited past and future medical care and expenses, and named his wife as a plaintiff. The lawsuit sought $75,000 in damages.

Attorneys for Strickland did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

In August, Ujiri’s attorneys filed a countersuit saying video footage showed Strickland was “undeniably the initial aggressor” in the confrontation and that the new evidence would vindicate Ujiri.

One of his attorneys, Tamarah Prevost, said Ujiri on Wednesday also dropped his lawsuit against Strickland, in which he alleged that Strickland used excessive force against him and pointed out that he never would have been treated with such disrespect if he had not been Black.

Prevost declined to comment further and referred all inquiries to the team.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, said in a statement that Ujiri “has been completely vindicated.”

“We are pleased the legal process has come to an end — and especially pleased that the claims made against Masai and MLSE were dismissed entirely, free of any financial settlement,” the company said. “We continue to be deeply troubled by the fact that Masai was put in this position in the first place, and believe he should never have had to defend himself. Masai is taking some time to process the ordeal, and intends to address it publicly at a later date.”

Speaking before his team’s 137-115 win over the Wizards on Wednesday night, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he was happy for Ujiri that the case was dropped and commended him for how he handled it throughout.

“It’s a long process that he had to go through but he did it properly and went through it without ever wavering,” Nurse said. “I’m sure he’s glad it’s over with, as we all are.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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