Deputy asks for dismissal of Raptors president Ujiri’s counterclaim

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri speaks to media. (Frank Gunn/CP)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Lawyers for an American law enforcement officer have filed a motion to dismiss a counterclaim to a lawsuit from Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri in the aftermath of an altercation at last year’s NBA Finals.

In filings to the United States District Court in California on Monday, Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland’s legal team says it will ask for a dismissal.

A Zoom hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17.

The dispute came as Ujiri tried to get on the court after the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to capture the NBA title last June.

The Raptors have said that a video released with the countersuit proves Ujiri wasn’t the aggressor in the dispute.

The footage appears to show Strickland using his arm to stop Ujiri from getting to the court. As Ujiri tries to walk by, Strickland shoves Ujiri before the two appear to exchange words.

The video shows Strickland shoving Ujiri again, leading to Ujiri pushing Strickland back.

In the most recent documents, Strickland’s lawyers said he would have risked Ujiri “potentially committing any number of possibly serious crimes” if the deputy had not employed force.

The document says because it was a high-profile sporting event, there is a risk of crime. It lists examples including the 1993 stabbing of tennis star Monica Seles, the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 2004 NBA brawl between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.

The document alleges Ujiri did not co-operate with officials.

“But just as Mr. Ujiri had completely ignored the private security official, he completely ignored Deputy Strickland’s words, gesture, and attempt at gentle physical guidance,” the document says.

Previously, Strickland’s legal team alleged Ujiri’s counterclaim is driven by race and a bias against law enforcement.

The Raptors did not immediately respond for comment.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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