Sheriff's deputy wants to see Toronto Raptors president's credential; access hampered by pandemic
OAKLAND, Calif. - The legal teams for an Alameda County Sheriff's deputy and the president of the Toronto Raptors continue to wage arguments in court 17 months after a high-profile shoving incident, and the focus of the latest issue is the exact security credential that basketball executive Masai Ujiri was wearing on June 13, 2019.
Sacramento-based lawyers for sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland are demanding to see the exact badge that Ujiri was wearing the night his team beat the Golden State Warriors 114-110 at Oracle Arena, the first major title for the Canadian team in nearly a quarter-century. At issue is whether Ujiri had the proper credentials to walk onto the court to congratulate his team.
WATCH: Raptors president after he allegedly shoves deputy
Strickland said he didn't. Ujiri said he did.
What happened next was an 11-second encounter where Strickland is seen on his body-camera video shoving Ujiri twice, telling him he had no authority to be there. The video shows that Ujiri shoved back once after being provoked.
Last February, Strickland filed a federal excessive force lawsuit against Ujiri and has not been to work since that day. Since then, the deputy has been collecting workers' compensation. Strickland's suit alleges he suffered physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth. At a court hearing this week, Strickland's team said they will call use-of-force and security experts and three medical experts including a neurologist and jaw surgeon to testify if the case goes to trial.
KTVU first reported that Strickland has a past conviction for insurance fraud.
Alan Strickland says he had facial swelling after he was shoved by Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. This is his photo from the hospital.
In August, Ujiri countersued, saying that Strickland was the initial aggressor and treated him in such a hostile manner because he is Black. Ujiri's suit alleges that Strickland used excessive force against him.
Ujiri's lawyers, from the Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy firm in Burlingame, said Ujiri's all-access credential was captured on video and the fact that he was wearing one is "virtually undisputed."
Ujiri's lawyers said that the Canadian basketball executive is not intentionally withholding a copy of his Game 6 credential.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Raptors practice area and Ujiri's offices in Toronto are closed. The team has been practicing in a makeshift facility in Tampa, Florida where they have been living in a bubble, and it has been impossible to obtain the exact security credential in question, his lawyers argued.
Ujiri's lawyers said "in the spirit of compromise," they found an identical-looking credential that belongs to his executive assistant. But Strickland's team, the Mastagni firm, has rejected this offer.
A date to settle the credential matter has not yet been scheduled.
However, at a court hearing conducted over Zoom on Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers expressed surprise that this case has not yet been settled, according to The Athletic.
She sharply questioned Strickland's attorney, Brett Beyler, and seemed to suggest at one point that the high-profile video of the altercation, also first reported by KTVU, did not back up the deputy's version that Ujiri assaulted the officer, the sports site reported.
Gonzalez Rogers asked Beyler: "Do you listen to sports talk radio?"
Beyler replied: "No, I do not, your honor."
Gonzalez Rogers replied: "Oh, you should. A lot of people have seen that video."
Then the judge didn't mince words about why this case is still progressing, nearly two years later. She urged the parties to get the matter resolved.
"I want to know what you all have done, all of you, to try to resolve this case?" the judge asked. "The fact that you’re spending this much money on that case, is a little bit extraordinary. So what have you done to calm the temperatures of your clients and resolve this case?"
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez.
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