OAKLAND — Attorneys for the Alameda County sheriff’s deputy accused of shoving Toronto Raptors president moments after his team defeated the Golden State Warriors at the 2019 NBA championship at Oracle Arena are denying any racial bias in the confrontation in a new court motion.
The two men were involved in a scuffle shortly after the deciding game of the finals ended on June 13, 2019. Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri tried to make his way onto the court to celebrate, before encountering Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland, who was working at the arena as a security guard.
Uriji recently filed a counterclaim and released a security video last month through his Burlingame attorney Joe Cotchett. The video appears to show Strickland initially shoving Ujiri in the chest twice before the Raptors president shoved back. Uriji has released statements suggesting race was a factor in the dust-up, which Strickland’s attorneys have previously denied.
“In reality, defendants brought this motion to take advantage of the now pervasive anti-law enforcement prejudices and to falsely allege racial animus and prejudicial bias is the reason for plaintiff Alan Strickland’s conduct on the date of the incident,” states Strickland’s recent motion, in opposition to Uriji’s counterclaim.
The motion, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Northern California, alleges that Uriji already conceded in statements to Oakland police that he pushed Strickland first. According to court documents, Uriji allegedly told police that he was “rushing with excitement” to get to the court and “pushed the officer away in an effort to get by him.”
The motion further alleges that Ujiri did not have the right credentials to access the basketball court at that time. His “all-access” credential, which Ujiri could be seen showing the deputy in the video, did not grant access to the court itself, according to the court documents.
“It is also a willful attempt to mislead the media and the public and taint the jury pool,” Strickland’s motion maintains.
Strickland originally sued Uriji in a federal lawsuit in February, alleging assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and two counts of negligence, alleging that he had suffered “physical, mental, emotional and economic” injuries in the confrontation’s wake.
Initial accounts by the sheriff’s office said Uriji struck Strickland in the face.A Warriors fan who witnessed the confrontation disputed that Ujiri struck the deputy. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Uriji in November.
Warriors’ President Rick Welts publicly apologized to Ujiri last month, shortly after the video was released.
Staff writers George Kelly and David DeBolt contributed to this story.