Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri may soon be facing a lawsuit from the policeman he allegedly struck and injured while attempting to make his way onto the Oracle Arena floor to celebrate his team’s NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Thursday.
A law enforcement source told San Francisco’s KPIX that the officer, who has not been publicly identified, is considering legal action against Ujiri due to the injuries he suffered in the altercation.
When asked about a potential lawsuit, an attorney for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy told KPIX that ‘all options are on the table.’
‘He has a serious concussion; a templar mandibular joint injury, which is a serious jaw injury,’ said civil rights attorney David Mastagni, who claims his client has not returned to work because of the injuries he sustained.
‘It’s an unprovoked significant hit to the jaw of the law enforcement officer,’ Mastagni added.
The department is pursuing charges of misdemeanor assault on an officer against Ujiri.
As NBC Bay Area first reported, witnesses claim that a person they identified as Masai Ujiri (dark grey suit) pushed a police officer twice, striking him in the face at one point. Video from the immediate aftermath of the incident does not show Ujiri making any physical contact with police, but a man can be seen desperately preventing one officer from getting to the Raptors President. It is not clear who that man is, but he did appear to be wearing a credential
Ujiri did ultimately get down to the floor for post-game festivities, interviews, and photographs
Although he has not been formally charged, the 48-year-old Ujiri allegedly got physical with an Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy who prevented him from walking onto the floor at the end of Game 6, according to department spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly. As Kelly explained, the officer stopped Ujiri because the Raptors President did not have the required credential.
However, various photos from Thursday night as well as a video posted to Twitter by ABC 10 producer Sean Cunningham show Ujiri holding what appears to be a credential in his hand.
When asked about the credential, a Toronto Raptors spokesperson declined to offer further comment to the Daily Mail on Monday.
Likewise, Kelly did not immediately respond to the Daily Mail’s request for comment.
Video from the immediate aftermath of the incident does not show Ujiri making any physical contact with police, but a man can be seen desperately preventing one officer from getting to the Raptors President.
Various photos from Thursday night how Ujiri holding what appears to be a credential in his hand. Alameda County police claimed Ujiri did not have a credential, which is why the Sheriff’s Deputy stopped him from walking onto the Oracle Arena floor following the Raptors’ NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Thursday
A video posed on Twitter by ABC 10 producer Sean Cunningham shows Ujiri holding what appears to be his credential just as the Toronto Raptors were clinching their NBA Finals victory
According to Kelly, the deputy was struck in the face during the altercation.
‘(The deputy) did not know who the man was and asked for the credential, and that’s when he tried to push past our deputy, and our deputy pushed him back, and there was another push that kind of moved up and struck our deputy in the face,’ Kelly said. ‘At that point, several bystanders intervened and the executive did ultimately get back onto the court without displaying credentials.’
Following the encounter, the deputy learned that the man was Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Kelly said.
Ujiri did ultimately get down to the floor for post-game festivities, interviews, and photographs.
The other issue, according to the deputy’s attorney, is that the officer is now being accused of racism.
Many, such as Toronto-based freelancer Andray Domise suggested that Ujiri was profiled for his race.
Ujiri is congratulated by his counterpart, Warriors president Bob Myers, after Thursday’s win
‘What should have been the proudest moment of Ujiri’s life, and should have been a moment of unadulterated joy for Raptors fans, became yet another footnote in the body of evidence on racial profiling,’ Domise wrote for Macleans.ca.
Mastagni strongly disagrees with the suggestion his client was being racist.
‘This is an issue of credentials or no credentials, not race,’ argued Mastagni.
According to one man, who claimed to witness the altercation, the deputy struck Ujiri first.
‘We were standing right next to the cop when this happened,’ Warriors fan Greg Wiener wrote on Twitter. ‘First of all cop was a hard-ass, Ujiri was pulling out his NBA Pass, the cop did not see badge he put his hands on Ujiri to stop him from going forward. The cop pushed Ujiri, then Ujiri pushed back. Cop was wrong.’
A jeweler known as Ben Baller tweeted about the altercation.
‘The GM of the raptors just pushed a sheriff in here who was fully dressed in tactical gear,’ Ben Baller tweeted, mistakenly referring to Ujiri as the team’s general manager. ‘I never seen such an insane bold move like that. The cop backed down and was low key shook. I mean push like f*** you mama push. Wow!!!!’
Some of the action was captured by Ben Baller, a local jeweler who claims he saw everything
Ujiri is known for being fiery and spontaneous.
During a rally before a playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, Ujiri yelled ‘f*** Brooklyn’ into a microphone for the benefit of cheering Raptors fans.
Born in England, Ujiri grew up in Nigeria and eventually came to the United States to play high school and collegiate basketball.
After six years of playing professionally in Europe, Ujiri was hired by former Denver Nuggets star-turned executive Kiki Vandeweghe as an international scout. He then moved on to a brief stint as the assistant general manager of the Raptors before returning to Denver as general manager, eventually winning NBA Executive of the Year in 2013.
Ujiri then signed became the Raptors general manager in 2013 and was quickly promoted to president.
And now that his Raptors have won their first NBA title, Ujiri is expected to see even more job offers.
According to ESPN, the struggling Washington Wizards are preparing an offer that would pay Ujiri at least $10 million annually.
Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors and the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama walk to the court before Game Two of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors on June 2