Toronto Raptors’ exec sued by sheriff’s deputy over alleged altercation at NBA finals
A Toronto Raptors executive accused of shoving and hitting a sheriff’s deputy when he was denied access to the court during last year’s NBA finals is being sued over the alleged altercation.
Alameda County Sheriff deputy Alan Strickland filed a lawsuit on Feb. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ president of basketball operations.
Strickland said in the suit that he was working security at Game 6 of the NBA finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland when he stopped Ujiri from going onto the court after the Raptors won against the Golden State Warriors.
The deputy said that there had been a prior security breach when an unauthorized person presented fake credentials to gain access to the court following a game, and deputies at the Raptors’ game were told not to let another breach occur.
Strickland alleged that Ujiri had “no visible credentials” and tried to get past security without showing credentials. The deputy said he told Ujiri to stop repeatedly but was ignored, according to the lawsuit.
Ujiri then attacked Strickland and hit him in the face and chest with both fists, sending Strickland stumbling backward, the suit stated.
The suit also names the Toronto Raptors, the NBA and the team’s ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Strickland is suing for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
The aftermath of the fight was caught on video and appeared to show a man stepping between a deputy and Ujiri. Following the incident, the sheriff’s department said it was working with the Oakland Police Department to file a report.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said in October that Ujiri would not face criminal charges. According to USA Today, images and video appear to show that Ujiri did have credentials on him and was holding them in his hand.
Strickland said in the suit that he was injured during the altercation and suffers from “physical, mental, emotional and economic injuries,” including lost wages.
The lawsuit stated that adequate safety and security measures should have been put in place at the arena and the defendants failed “to post warning signs.”
Strickland is seeking at least $75,000.
A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment denied the allegations in Strickland’s lawsuit and said the company shares the same legal counsel as the Raptors and Masai.
“We are disappointed but not at all surprised Mr. Strickland has elected to take this path. His claims are baseless and entirely without merit,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “They should and will be viewed appropriately for what they are.”