Raptors' Masai Ujiri: Deputy's Treatment in Bodycam Video Was Because I'm Black

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri attends a premiere for
Arthur Mola/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri released a statement Thursday about his 2019 altercation with an Alameda County sheriff's deputy:

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

A statement from our president Masai Ujiri. https://t.co/ykekTq53XM

Body camera footage was released Tuesday that shows the officer, Alan Strickland, shoved Ujiri at the start of the confrontation:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Masai Ujiri's legal team has released this body camera footage of his encounter with a sheriff's deputy as he tried to walk onto the court at Oracle Arena after the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals. (via @diamond83) https://t.co/OJKn8R3NmU

Ujiri was attempting to go on the court after the Raptors won the NBA title over the Golden State Warriors. Even with his credentials in hand, he was pushed before getting a chance to show them.

"I was reminded in that moment that despite all my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement," Ujiri said. "And, there is only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I'm black."

Strickland filed a lawsuit against Ujiri in February, alleging he shoved him hard enough to cause "physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth," per Lisa Fernandez of Fox 2. The guard also claimed Ujiri tried to "storm" the court before hitting him in the face.

Despite the video evidence, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office is standing by its initial claim.

"We 100 percent stand by [the] original statement that was released that Mr. Ujiri is the aggressor in this incident," the sheriff's office said, per Stephanie Smyth of CP 24. "Don't be quick to judge based off of what lawyers are saying."

Ujiri compared his situation to other interactions with authority figures while calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain, three Black men and women who were killed by police officers.