Alameda County sheriff’s deputy drops suit against Raptors’ Ujiri

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. (Nathan Denette/CP)

The Alameda County sheriff’s deputy who shoved Masai Ujiri in the moments following the conclusion of the 2019 NBA Finals has dropped his federal suit against the Toronto Raptors president.

As a result, Ujiri’s countersuit against the sheriff’s deputy, Alan Strickland, has also been dropped. According to KTVU FOX 2’s Lisa Fernandez, “neither side will gain any money as part of the mutual agreement, and each side will pay their own attorney’s fees.”

The incident in question occurred on June 13, 2019, as the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to win their franchise’s first championship. Footage from Strickland’s body cam video shows Ujiri walking towards the court while pulling credentials from his suit pocket and Strickland subsequently shoving the Raptors president twice, telling him he had no authority to be there, before Ujiri shoved him back once.

In February 2020, Strickland filed a federal lawsuit against Ujiri alleging assault and battery, which was met with a countersuit in which Ujiri alleged that Strickland used excessive force against him.

“Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be,” a spokesperson for the Raptors said in a statement Wednesday. “We are disappointed that he and his family have had to endure the past 18 months of worry and uncertainty, but for their sake 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.

“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.”

In August 2020, after Strickland’s body-cam footage of the incident was released, Ujiri released a statement about the altercation:

“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer [in 2019] in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship,” Ujiri wrote at the time. “It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA.

“Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.”

Per Fernandez, Strickland has returned to work and has been assigned to administrative duties.

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