OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — An Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesman says a deputy involved in an encounter with the president of the Toronto Raptors complained of pain in his jaw and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Sgt. Ray Kelly said Friday that Raptors President Masai Ujiri hit the deputy with his arm on the side of his face as Ujiri shoved him to try to get onto the court after the Raptors won the NBA championship on Thursday in Oakland.
Kelly says Ujiri also shouted obscenities at the deputy. The Sheriff’s Office however said they made a decision not arrest or detain Uriji moments after his team won the NBA Finals.
“Given the circumstances — he’s going to go out onto the court and accept the world championship trophy — I think that was the right decision to make,” said Sgt. J.D. Nelson in a phone interview.
Investigators say the incident started when Ujiri tried to walk past the deputy, who was checking credentials.
Sgt. Kelly says investigators are reviewing footage from body cameras worn by the deputy and other officers, the stadium’s surveillance video and cellphone video. Warrior GM Bob Myers chalked up the incident to momentarily confusion in the wake of Toronto’s stunning Game 6 win.
“I hope it gets resolved in the best way possible. But it doesn’t blemish any of Toronto’s accomplishments,” Myers said in a end-of-the-season press conference.
Even Warriors’ fans still stung by the loss were in a largely forgiving mood.
“If they come to the conclusion that this happened in the heat of the moment and they honestly believe that it was a mistake and tempers flared too quickly, then let it go,” Gary Bizer said.
The Sheriff’s Office says they will turn over the results of their investigation to the District Attorney’s Office who will ultimately decide whether or not to file charges.
“We’ll be submitting a report to the Alameda County district attorney for complaint of battery on an officer,” Kelly explained.
Warriors President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers admitted to reporters Friday he was not up to speed on the alleged confrontation between Ujiri and the deputy moments before the NBA Finals trophy presentation ceremony.
“I congratulated [Ujiri], I heard of it but I haven’t seen the video, I haven’t seen any media,” Myers said. “I woke up today, I took my daughters to camp, had some cereal and started meeting with Steph Curry and Draymond Green. There’s enough to do here. I hope it gets resolved in the best way possible. That doesn’t blemish any of what their accomplishments are. They did a wonderful thing, winning a championship is unbelievably hard.”
Warriors fan Greg Wiener said he was standing next to the deputy when the encounter occurred and did not see Ujiri strike him in the face.
“The thing about the cops saying the policeman asked for his credentials, that didn’t happen. There was no conversation at all,” Wiener said.
“This part about striking him in the face, yeah that didn’t happen,” he added.
Wiener said the encounter began when the deputy put his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushed him. Ujiri shoved him back before bystanders intervened, Wiener said, adding that he has not been interviewed by authorities.
“This looks like somebody trying to embellish what happened to protect what they did, what the policeman did,” he said.
A Raptors spokesperson told KPIX 5, “The incident is being looked at and we are cooperating with authorities. We look forward to resolving the situation.”
Ujiri joined the Raptors in 2013. He conducted the once controversial trade last year that landed Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on the Canadian team, trading away franchise face DeMar Derozan. He was also once criticized for firing Dwayne Casey after the 2018 playoffs, even though he had just won the NBA Coach of the Year award.
The confrontation between Ujiri and the deputy was the second incident at Oracle Arena during the NBA finals involving an executive with one of the teams. During Game 3 on June 5, Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens shoved and swore at Toronto’s Kyle Lowry after Lowry dove into the courtside seats to save a loose ball.
The NBA and the Warriors announced that Stevens has been banned from attending any NBA game for a year and fined $500,000.