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New footage shows officer shoved Masai Ujiri first

From NBA Twitter and media reports

New video evidence shows a deputy shoved Raptors president Masai Ujiri first in the moments after Toronto wrapped up the 2019 NBA championship in Oakland, Calif.

The clash between the deputy and Ujiri happened as the deputy checked court-access credentials after Toronto’s Game 6 win against Golden State. In body cam footage from a security guard released Tuesday, Alameda, Calif., deputy Alan Strickland shoves Ujiri twice as he attempts to join the team’s championship celebration.

In a roughly 2-minute long video posted by KTVU-TV in Oakland, Strickland is seen shoving Ujiri and is heard telling him to “back the [expletive] up.” Ujiri, who had shown his credential, was putting them back in his jacket pocket, says after the shove, “why did you push me? I’m the president of the Raptors.”

The two men were eventually separated and Ujiri got onto the court.

“We are mindful this remains before the courts, but we have always maintained that the claims made against Masai are baseless and entirely without merit,” a Raptors spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday night, per the the Toronto Star. “We believe this video evidence shows exactly that — Masai was not an aggressor but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions. The events of that evening cast a pall over what should have been a night of celebration, and the year since.

“While Masai has the full backing of Raptors and MLSE [Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment] as he fights this injustice, we are aware that not all people have similar support and resources. This is a spurious legal action that MLSE, the NBA, and especially Masai should not be facing.”

Strickland’s filed a suit in February and alleges Ujiri assaulted him and that Strickland suffered “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.”

Per ESPN, Ujiri filed a countersuit — which includes the Raptors, NBA and MLSE as plantiffs — says Strickland falsified their encounter to paint Ujiri as the “initial agressor” and calls Strickland’s account of the event “a complete fabrication.”

Strickland also filed a federal lawsuit against Ujiri as well as a workers’ compensation claim, the Toronto Star reports, but neither of those suits were found to be true.

Authorities said in June of 2019 that Ujiri tried to walk past the deputy but the deputy stopped him because he didn’t see Ujiri’s on-court credentials.

Ujiri pushed the deputy, who pushed him back before Ujiri “made a second, more significant shove and during that shove his arm struck our deputy in the side of the head,” sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said last June. He also said Ujiri also shouted obscenities.

Several bystanders intervened and Ujiri got onto the court without displaying any credentials, Kelly said.

Warriors fan Greg Wiener, who witnessed the altercation, told The Associated Press in mid-June that the incident began when the deputy put his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushed him. Ujiri shoved him back before bystanders intervened, Wiener said.

He also said then that there was no conversation between the deputy and Ujiri. But on Tuesday, he said he remembered the officer shouting, “No one gets on the court without credentials.”

Ujiri has served as president of the Raptors since May 31, 2013. Since then, Toronto has never won less than 48 games in a season, won six Atlantic Division championships, appeared in two Eastern Conference finals and won one NBA championship.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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