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Raptors president Masai Ujiri under investigation for confrontation with sheriff's deputy at Oracle Arena

Harry Harris, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is under investigation and could face criminal charges after he is suspected of pushing and striking an Alameda County sheriff's deputy in the face Thursday night following Game 6 of the NBA Finals, authorities said Friday.

He was not arrested and both the sheriff's office and Oakland police will submit reports to the district attorney's office which will decide what, if any, charges will be filed. At this point the incident is being investigated as a misdemeanor battery, authorities said.

The confrontation, captured on security and other videos as well as the deputy's body camera, happened moments after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to capture the NBA championship.

Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly said Friday that Ujiri tried to come on the court to join the team but did not have the proper credentials.

"You have to have special credentials to get on the court," Kelly said. "We were told by the NBA to strictly enforce credentialing. We have an obligation to make sure everyone is safe. Everyone knows of the policy. He did not have his credentials displayed. It's an NBA rule they have to be visible."

Kelly said when the deputy, a member of the department's bomb squad, tried to stop Ujiri, who he did not know, Ujiri "pushed the deputy out of the way to get on the court. The deputy pushed him back and said he could not get on the court."

 

Kelly said Ujiri shoved the deputy again but this time his arm went up and "struck the deputy in the face," Kelly said. He was not injured. His name has not been released.

At that point NBA officials who were present stepped in and got Ujiri away and allowed him to join the celebration, Kelly said.

Ujiri could have been arrested at the scene but "given the dynamics of the situation we decided to take the high road" and submit reports of the incident to the district attorney for a criminal complaint, Kelly said.

He said numerous witness statements have either already been obtained or will be, and investigators are reviewing numerous videos, including the body camera footage.

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