The Alameda County Sheriff's Office admitted that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri showed his NBA identification before an alleged altercation with a sheriff's deputy last week at Oracle Arena.
The sheriff's office told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that Ujiri told the deputy he was the Raptors' president and then presented the ID, but he did not have the necessary credentials to get onto the court after his team beat the Warriors to clinch its first championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last Thursday.
Officials allege that Ujiri pushed and struck the deputy in the face after he refused to let the executive on the court, and an attorney hired to represent the deputy told multiple outlets earlier this week that his client has a concussion and a "serious jaw injury."
Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, told The Globe that security footage from Oracle Arena showed Ujiri hitting the deputy with "two fists" and that one struck the officer "underneath the jaw on the left side of his face." Three eyewitnesses, whom The Globe said "were sitting within 10 feet of the altercation," disputed that account.
"From what I saw it was just shoving," Lucas Abrenica, 20, said. "There were no punches thrown or anything like that."
Ben Baller, 46, told The Globe that Ujiri identified himself with a credential, which Kelly said was not the right one to get the executive on the court. Baller told the paper that "others in the area started shouting" Ujiri's position, but the deputy pushed him and "shook his head 'no.' "
Greg Wiener, 61, said Ujiri "brushed" away the deputy's arm after he blocked his path to the court, "then the deputy got a little bit more aggressive," pushing Ujiri first.
"That's when Mr. Ujiri pushed the deputy hard," Wiener said.
Kelly told The Globe that the deputy pushed Ujiri first, but the executive pushed with greater force. Two of the witnesses who spoke to The Globe said the deputy appeared to be "uninjured," but Kelly claimed the officer was diagnosed with a concussion after going to a hospital later that night.
KPIX-TV reported Monday that Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern "personally reviewed" the deputy's bodycam footage, as well as that of Oracle's security cameras. He told the outlet that he will recommend the district attorney charge Ujiri with misdemeanor battery of an officer.
The Raptors did not comment on The Globe's story but said in a statement to NBC Sports Washington last week that the encounter "is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities. We look forward to resolving the situation."