A California law enforcement officer has dropped his lawsuit against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri that stemmed from an altercation at the 2019 NBA Finals.
The Raptors president subsequently dropped his countersuit against Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland, which was confirmed in a statement from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the team owner.
The Raptors, MLSE and the NBA were also named in Strickland’s lawsuit.
“Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be,” an MLSE spokesperson said in a statement. “We are disappointed that he and his family have had to endure the past 18 months of worry and uncertainty, but for their sake we are pleased the legal process has come to an end — and especially pleased that the claims made against Masai and MLSE were dismissed entirely, free of any financial settlement.
“We continue to be deeply troubled by the fact that Masai was put in this position in the first place, and believe he should never have had to defend himself. Masai is taking some time to process the ordeal, and intends to address it publicly at a later date.”
Strickland, who was seeking $75,000 US, had alleged he suffered physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth. Ujiri’s countersuit alleged that Strickland used excessive force against him. Ujiri also claimed that he never would have been treated with such disrespect if he wasn’t Black.
WATCH | Video shows altercation between Ujiri, sheriff’s deputy:
The case caps a nearly two-year-long battle between their legal teams.
The incident happened on June 13, 2019, after the Raptors won Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
“I’m certainly happy it’s over for him and that he is done with it … it’s a long process that he had to go through, but he did it properly and just went through it without ever wavering,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said before the Raptors played the Wizards in Washington on Wednesday.
“I’m sure he’s glad it’s over with, as we all are.”
In the videos released, Ujiri was seen going into his pocket to bring out his credentials. However, as he tried to do that, Strickland is seen on his body-camera video shoving Ujiri twice, telling him he had no authority to be there. Ujiri then shoves Strickland back, which was all caught in the 11-second video. The Raptors president and his legal team argued there was no reason for Strickland to forcefully shove Ujiri.
“Mr. Ujiri was abundantly calm, reasonable and compliant during his encounter with Strickland, and there was absolutely no reason for Strickland to forcefully shove Mr. Ujiri twice without provocation,” Ujiri’s legal team said last October in a response to Strickland’s lawsuit. “At this stage, it would be improper to construe the facts in Strickland’s favour and find otherwise.”
The response also says Ujiri’s Fourth Amendment right was violated. Ujiri’s team says the Fourth Amendment requires officers to use force only when it is “objectively reasonable.”
Strickland’s civil suit was filed after prosecutors decided in October not to press criminal charges against Ujiri.
With both suits now dropped, neither side will gain any money as part of the mutual agreement, and each side will pay their own legal fees.