Police in Alameda County, California, have confirmed they are investigating Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri for allegedly striking an officer at Oracle Arena amid his team’s NBA title celebrations.
The incident between Ujiri and the deputy came on Thursday night as the Raptors won their first-ever NBA championship, beating the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 in Oakland.
Ujiri, 48, had been watching the game with other team officials near the Raptors locker room and was attempting to make his way to the floor to join the team to celebrate.
He was then stopped by a deputy and was reportedly asked for his credentials, before the altercation ensued.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said on Friday: “Mr. Ujiri was unknown to the deputy at that time. He [the deputy] asked him for a credential.
“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.”
Footage of the scene immediately after the row was published by NBC Bay Area, and shows the officer and Ujiri being separated.
Pictures of the incident appear to show Ujiri holding his credentials in his hand, however it is reported that the NBA required additional clearance to access the court, including a gold armband.
It is unclear whether Ujiri was holding these credentials or had them with him.
The deputy later complained of pain in his jaw and was taken to a hospital for checks, according to the AP.
Police spokesman Kelly said that officers had declined to arrest Ujiri on Thursday night, as “it would be in everyone’s best interest to slow things down and do an investigation.”
He confirmed on Friday, however, that they would be pursuing a misdemeanor complaint against Ujiri for battery of a police officer.
Meanwhile, USA Today has quoted a Warriors fan who says he witnessed the scene, and who has disputed the initial version of events presented.
“The thing that I’m pushing back on is where they’re saying that the cop asked for his credentials. He didn’t ask…. There was no conversation at all,” said Greg Wiener, a Warriors season ticket holder.
“The cop initiated the contact, no doubt about it,” he added.
The Raptors told the AP that they were cooperating with the investigation into the incident, while the NBA said it was in contact with both parties and was “in the process of gathering more information.”