It was the biggest moment in franchise history. The Toronto Raptors had just beaten the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win their first-ever championship, and team president Masai Ujiri was making his way down to the court to celebrate with his team.
What happened next is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Alan Strickland, the Alameda County Sheriffs deputy involved in the incident, and a counter-suit by Ujiri. Strickland’s suit alleges that he was the victim of assault and, as a result, has suffered physical and emotional anguish related to the incident. But new body cam footage introduced as evidence this week clearly shows he was the aggressor.
Strickland’s suit claims that Ujiri pushed him first, but two separate camera angles show that Strickland forcefully shoved Ujiri twice as he was showing him his credentials.
New video footage appears to show Raptors president Masai Ujiri didn’t instigate the altercation he was sued over after Toronto won the NBA title in June 2019 pic.twitter.com/mMsD6PuIto
— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) August 19, 2020
Normal Powell, Fred VanVleet, and head coach Nick Nurse all weighed on the development, particularly in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has spotlighted just this type of police aggression against minorities without cause and has mobilized protesters across the country to take the streets and demand justice and reform.
Norm Powell on the Masai video: “We saw it as a team… I’m just really glad that the video came out and Masai is able to clear his name… It’s exactly what we’ve been fighting for and we’re gonna continue that fight and take out the bad apples in the police force.”
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) August 19, 2020
“The system is crooked and it’s not designed for us.” https://t.co/HPQxmMnlOQ
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) August 19, 2020
The altercation cast a dark shadow over what was supposed to be the most joyous occasion in team history, and the ongoing legal battle has sought to defame Ujiri, but this new evidence should put any lingering doubt to rest and turn the wheels of justice back squarely in Strickland’s direction.