Officer suing Raptors' Ujiri files motion saying he used 'gentle physical guidance' during altercation
Published Tuesday, October 6, 2020 5:26PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 6, 2020 5:27PM EDT
An Oakland police officer, who is suing Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, is now trying to dismiss counterclaims that he treated the basketball executive poorly during last year’s NBA Finals.
Alameda County sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland filed a lawsuit against Ujiri following the 2019 altercation. In response, Ujiri released a body camera video of the incident and filed a countersuit in August in an effort to prove that he wasn't the aggressor.
The officer has now put forward a motion to dismiss the countersuit, claiming that he suffered "injury to his head, body, health, strength, nervous system and person.”
He claims that all of what he suffered during the altercation “caused and continue to cause great mental, physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering." None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The incident occurred on June 13, after the Raptors won their first-ever NBA title over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif.
Ujiri was trying to get on the court to join his celebrating team when Strickland alleges he stopped him because Ujiri didn't provide the proper on-court credential, leading to shoving that was partially captured on video.
Strickland claims he first tried to use words and “gentle physical guidance” to prevent Ujiri from getting to the court but that he had to eventually resort to shoving.
Strickland’s body camera video shows Ujiri walking toward the court and as he tries to pull out credentials out of his suit pocket, the officer can be seen aggressively shoving the Raptors president twice before Ujiri shoves him back once.
The new filing by the officer states he was justified because there was a risk of a crime being committed because it was a “high-profile sporting event” and referenced the 1993 fan stabbing of tennis star Monica Seles and the1972 Munich Olympics massacre.
While the Alameda County district attorney's office announced that prosecutors would not press criminal charges against Ujiri, Strickland pushed forward with a lawsuit and alleged he suffered a concussion during the shove.
In the recent countersuit, Ujiri's legal team reports their account of what happened during what they describe as an 11-second encounter.
"As Mr. Ujiri attempted to enter the court, Mr. Strickland assaulted him, forcefully shoving him back once and then twice. Mr. Ujiri then shoved Mr. Strickland in the chest," the document said.
The document adds Strickland is "perpetuating a fraud by falsely claiming he was injured," and that Ujiri was "subjected to unprovoked and unnecessary use of force."
The document alleges that the “dishonest account” is a narrative that has become “somewhat familiar” in U.S. society.
“A law enforcement officer using their position engages in unjustified violence against a peaceful individual then lies about the encounter by characterizing the victim as the aggressor," the document said.
"To be sure the great majority of law enforcement officers do not conduct themselves in this way. Mr. Strickland, however, has chosen dishonesty over integrity."
In addition to Ujiri, Strickland is suing, the Raptors, Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the NBA.
Strickland and his wife, Kelly Strickland, are seeking US$75,000 in general damages, as well as other compensation, which includes punitive damages, lost wages, current and future medical expenses and legal costs.
In the most recent court action, Strickland and his lawyers allege that Ujiri’s counterclaims are “substantively frivolous.”
The document alleges that the use of force was reasonable and not excessive and that Ujiri was “not wearing any armband or even a lanyard with a credential on it.”
“This was an individual who actively resisted multiple efforts to investigate his right to court access,” the document alleged.
“As is self-evident from the video, had Deputy Strickland not employed force, he would have risked having the suspect not only trespass onto the court, he would have risked the suspect quickly getting lost amid the growing crowd of folks authorized to be on the court, and potentially committing any number of possibly serious crimes.”
-- With files from The Canadian Press