The police officer who reportedly got into a shoving match with Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri, during Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors has sued the basketball executive for assault.
According to ESPN, the officer and plaintiff, Alan Strickland, alleges in the suit that Ujiri hit him in the face and chest with both fists during the altercation. This happened at the end of the game when the Nigerian was making his way to the court to join the players and other team members celebrate the Raptors’ first ever NBA championship in its franchise history.
Strickland initially declined Ujiri access to the court on the grounds that he did not show the proper credentials to be able to have access to the grounds. After trading words, a shoving match ensued but both parties were quickly separated. Ujiri was shortly allowed access to the court afterwards.
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The suit, which also names Strickland’s wife as a co-plaintiff alleges that in the aftermath of the incident, Strickland “suffered injury to his body, health, strength, activity and person, all of which have caused and continue to cause Plaintiff great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.”
It adds that Strickland has “suffered great anxiety, embarrassment, anger, loss of enjoyment of life, injury to reputation and severe emotional and physical distress in an amount to be determined at trial,” ESPN reports.
Strickland alleges that the effects of the altercation has left him with a permanent disability. As a result, the plaintiffs, who have requested for a jury trial, are seeking over $75,000 in general damages, punitive damages, settlement of current and future medical and incidental expenses as well as legal fees and loss of earnings.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office opted not to press charges against Ujiri in the aftermath of the incident in October though the police initially claimed Strickland was struck in the jaw and shoulder by Ujiri and also suffered a concussion. They also claimed Ujiri did not have the required credentials to access the court.
Some fans who witnessed the incident, however, claimed they never saw Ujiri hit Strickland.
Speaking to The Globe and Mail, one of the witnesses, Ben Baller, claimed Ujiri was aggressively stopped by Strickland who asked for his credentials when he tried going to the court. He added that Ujiri tried showing his credentials though he could not hear their conversation, and claimed that some fans close to the scene of the incident even tried telling Strickland who Ujiri was. He, however, did not budge. The issue quickly escalated and Strickland shoved Ujiri who also shoved him back.
“I don’t know who shoved first, but both the sheriff and Ujiri shoved each other very hard. They both stumbled back. … From what I saw it was just shoving. There were no punches thrown or anything like that,” another witness told The Globe.
A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group of the Raptors told ESPN they have been made aware of the suit but currently have no comment.