Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri filed a countersuit on Tuesday against a Bay Area police officer in response to an altercation between the two men.
New video footage shows that Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Strickland blatantly lied about the interaction between himself and Ujiri in Oracle Arena after the Raptors had just won their first NBA championship. The footage shows Strickland shoving Ujiri twice and cursing at him as the Toronto executive tried to show his credential and make it down to the court to celebrate with his team.
In February Strickland filed a lawsuit against the Raptors, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the NBA, and Ujiri, claiming that the Raptors’ president of basketball operations assaulted him. In Strickland’s suit, the officer alleged that Ujiri struck him in both the face and chest with his fists and caused him to suffer a “permanent disability.”
He also claims that the interaction between himself and Ujiri caused “great mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and nervous pain and suffering.”
Ujiri’s countersuit called Strickland’s recollection of the events that night a “complete fabrication.” The 11-second body cam footage as well as other video clips that were released on Tuesday support the Raptors exec’s account of the events.
It should be no surprise that a police officer would lie to try to save himself in a situation where he clearly was out of line. Some of them have been doing it for years, especially before they were forced to wear body cams.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office had enough sense to announce that they wouldn’t press charges against Ujiri last October after they looked into the situation — but not before Sheriff Greg Ahern requested Ujiri be charged with battery of an officer following the altercation.
Now, Strickland is facing a countersuit that he will more than likely lose once all the video evidence has been taken into account.
The lawsuit shouldn’t be the only L that Strickland takes after this situation subsides. He should be fired immediately from his position and never allowed to serve as security at a sporting event ever again.
Strickland clearly used excessive force and likely racially profiled Ujiri in the altercation last summer.
And not only did he refuse to accept accountability for his poor decisions, but he also made up an egregious lie to try to defame Ujiri.
This lie attempted to label him as the “aggressor” in the situation, which is another dangerous stereotype given to black men and has resulted in the wrongful murder of multiple black men at the hands of police officers.
This is unacceptable in and of itself.
Not to mention that Strickland has a history of lying. In 1994, he was convicted of insurance fraud.
The Raptors released a statement about the situation to the San Francisco Chronicle, saying that they are giving Ujiri their full support as he fights this injustice.
“We are mindful this remains before the courts, but we have always maintained that the claims made against Masai are baseless and entirely without merit. We believe this video evidence shows exactly that — Masai was not an aggressor, but instead was the recipient of two very violent, unwarranted actions,” said the team. “The events of that evening cast a pall over what should have been a night of celebration, and the year since.
“While Masai has the full backing of Raptors and MLSE as he fights this injustice, we are aware that not all people have similar support and resources. This is a spurious legal action that MLSE, the NBA, and especially Masai should not be facing.”
The horrendous deceit by Strickland is far too common in our police force. Flagrant fibs told by authorities to perpetuate negative stereotypes against people of color are disgusting and continue to increase the distrust between law enforcement and their communities.
Thankfully, Ujiri had the resources to fight against this wack officer but what if Ujiri wasn’t the president of a professional sports team?
What if he were an ordinary black man without this type of legal access?
Would the truth have ever come out?
We don’t know.
And that right there is the problem. The dishonesty from Strickland represents an entire system of crooked officers who would rather lie to save themselves than admit they made a mistake that put someone’s life in danger.
This situation is deeper than Ujiri and one officer. This is about what both Strickland and Ujiri represent.
A dishonest system looking to broadcast any lies it can find to excuse their wrongful actions against an entire race of people.
It’s about time that these actions finally come to light.