Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has been vindicated after being falsely accused of assaulting a police officer. The charges were dropped from a lawsuit on Feb. 10 and left Ujiri and the team free from any financial settlement.
A racial altercation occurred in the moments following Toronto’s victory over the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. Ujiri was accused of assaulting San Francisco Bay Area Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Strickland, although video footage from that night proved otherwise. The video actually shows Strickland shoving Ujiri twice as Ujiri was showing his team credential to the officer while trying to make his way to the arena floor and celebrate with the Raptors.
Ujiri released a statement on Monday, Feb. 15, regarding the vindication and stated that the problem is bigger than a courtroom decision and lies in America’s racial discord.
“I am so lucky to have my beautiful, loving, supportive family,” he explained. “I’m grateful to the Raptors players, staff and coaches for having my back. Thank you to the NBA, MLSE [Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.] and Larry Tanenbaum for your steadfast support. And I am humbled by the fans around the world. You all stood with me. I have decided my fight isn’t a legal one.
“Now, the challenge is this: What can we do to stop another man or woman from finding themselves in front of a judge or behind bars because they committed no crime other than being Black? That is the work that each one of us must commit to, every day.”
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., which owns the Toronto Raptors, has been fighting the charges with Ujiri the whole time and issued a statement after the verdict as well.
“Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be,” the company’s statement read. “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.”
Strickland had claimed he suffered “physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries,” from the encounter and was seeking $75,000 in damages. Check out the footage of the incident provided by Reuters on the next page.