Sheriff’s office disputes video evidence of Raptors’ Masai Ujiri being provoked by deputy

Despite bodycam footage released Tuesday night seeming to indicate Raptors president Masai Ujiri was pushed twice by an Alameda County (Calif.) sheriff’s deputy without provocation in June 2019, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office doubled down on its claim that Ujiri started the altercation at Oracle Arena following Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

“We 100 percent stand by [the] original statement that was released that Mr. Ujiri is the aggressor in this incident,” the department told CP24 on Wednesday. “Don’t be quick to judge based off of what lawyers are saying.”

The deputy, Alan Strickland, sued Ujiri in February claiming the executive was responsible for assault, battery and emotional distress. Ujiri has since filed a countersuit alleging Strickland’s filing included false statements. 

As part of the countersuit, Ujiri’s attorney’s released the following bodycam footage:

The Raptors, who have backed Ujiri throughout the legal process, reacted to the video with condemnation of Strickland and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

“Masai was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions,” the Raptors said in a statement.

Raptors players Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell also spoke in support of Ujiri after the team’s playoff victory over the Nets on Wednesday. Both players said the entire team watched the video.

“We ride with Masai and we all have his back,” VanVleet said, according to quotes provided by the Raptors. “We had it from Day 1, but it’s just crazy to see how things work. “It’s unfortunate. I think that’s why we all are in a situation now fighting [against] social injustice and [for] equality because you see how quickly things can get ugly just by somebody’s word or one bad cop or a bunch of bad cops. The system is kind of crooked. It’s just not designed for us, so it’s tough. It’s tough.”

“I’m glad there was a body cam to show what actually went down,” Powell said. “There were a lot of different stories going on saying that Masai was the aggressor in the situation. I’m glad that we were able to get to the real bottom line so everybody can see what really happened. But it’s exactly what we are fighting for, for justice to be served for those cops who are taking the law a little bit into their own hands unnecessarily.”

Strickland’s lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages. Ujiri’s counterclaim seeks “nominal and punitive damages” and attorney’s fees, according to his attorneys.

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