Toronto Raptors President Masai UjiriPhoto: Tom Szczerbowski (Getty)
Did Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri perhaps get a little too carried away in his zeal to celebrate with his team on the court after they won their first NBA Championship Thursday night, or did an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy maybe go a little too far in his zeal to police the arena?
Those are questions following news that Ujiri is under investigation on suspicion of misdemeanor battery on a police officer after authorities say he shoved and hit a sheriff’s deputy in the face after the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to win Game 6 and clinch the title, ESPN reports.
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A spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office says Ujiri kicked things off when he refused to show the proper credentials to go onto the court. When the officer questioned Ujiri, Ujiri pushed the officer and hit him in the face, Sgt. Ray Kelly told ESPN:
“Mr. Ujiri was unknown to the deputy at that time. He [the deputy] asked him for a credential,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “He shoved the deputy out of the way and walked toward the court. The deputy pushed back. The president came forward more with a more significant push and ended up striking the deputy in the face.”
Ultimately, onlookers got involved in the altercation and Ujiri ended up getting access to the court even without the requested credential, Kelly told the Associated Press.
Law enforcement has gathered video evidence of the alleged fracas, and the county sheriff’s office is pursuing a charge of battery on an officer against Ujiri, Kelly told the AP.
As the AP explains:
A video of the altercation obtained by KNTV-TV News shows Ujiri and a deputy being held back courtside by bystanders. It doesn’t show a scuffle.
Raptors spokeswoman Jennifer Quinn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The video appeared to show Ujiri holding some type of credential in his right hand while standing by the court.
At least one witness told the AP that he was standing next to the deputy when the incident happened, but that he did not see either the officer ask for credentials or Ujiri hit the officer.
“This part about striking him in the face, yeah, that didn’t happen,” Warriors fan Greg Wiener told the AP.
According to ESPN, authorities are looking to wrap up their investigation next week, while the Raptors say they are “cooperating.”
“The incident is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities,” the team said in a statement Friday afternoon, ESPN reports. “We look forward to resolving the situation.”