Sheriff's deputy drops suit against Toronto Raptors president after shoving incident
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Alameda County sheriff's deputy who was seen shoving the Toronto Raptors president after the Canadian team beat the Warriors in June 2019 on Wednesday dropped his federal lawsuit against Masai Ujiri.
In response, Ujiri dropped his countersuit against Deputy Alan Strickland, KTVU has learned.
In addition, Strickland has since returned to work, according to Alameda County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Kelly. He has been assigned to administrative duties. The exact return date was not revealed.
Neither side will gain any money as part of the mutual agreement, and each side will pay their own attorney's fees.
WATCH: Raptors president after he allegedly shoves deputy
"Masai has been completely vindicated, as we always knew he would be," a spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment told KTVU in an email. "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."
The agreement to drop the case caps a nearly two-year-long battle between Strickland's and Ujiri's legal teams, who have been locked in a protracted lawsuit and countersuit over who used excessive force after the Raptors beat the 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. 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 lawsuit alleging assault and battery against Ujiri. The deputy had been collecting workers' compensation for many months afterward. Strickland's suit alleges he suffered physical injuries to his head, jaw, chin and teeth.
Ujiri later filed a countersuit, alleging that Strickland used excessive force against him, and pointed out that he never would have been treated with such disrespect if he had not been Black.
KTVU also first reported that Strickland has a past misdemeanor conviction for insurance fraud.
The agreement also follows a tense court hearing last month, when U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers expressed surprise that the matter had not yet settled.
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.
"I urge you to try to get this thing resolved," the judge said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "It's -- it's already at this point probably gone too far....I don't know what's driving the lack of a settlement, but it is incumbent upon you to bring a measure of reality to your clients and to get this thing resolved."
Ujiri was represented by Joe Cotchett, Emanuel Townsend and Tamarah Prevost in Burlingame. Strickland was represented by David Mastagni in Sacramento. Neither side has commented publicly on the record.
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at email@example.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez.
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