Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Alan Strickland and his tortuous legal quest to prove he was assaulted by Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri on the Golden State Warriors' court after the 2019 NBA Finals has reached a new embarrassing low this week. In a notice filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Strickland's legal team compared Ujiri trying to get on the court to celebrate his team's championship to the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the Malice at the Palace, and the 1993 stabbing of tennis player Monica Seles.
This past February, eight months after the 11-second encounter, Strickland filed suit against Ujiri for allegedly "attacking" him and hitting him "in the face and chest with both fists" as he tried to run onto the court without his credential, causing Strickland to suffer "physical, mental, emotional, and economic injuries." Strickland claimed permanent disability as a result of the incident, and his legal team demanded hefty compensation for damages. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue charges against Ujiri last November, and Strickland was still on medical leave as of last month.
This August, discovery revealed Strickland's body camera footage and showed the cop shoving Ujiri twice as the Raptors president attempted to pull out his credentials. The evidence clearly contradicted Strickland's version of events, showing not only that Strickland was the aggressor, but also that Ujiri had his credentials on him. Ujiri countersued, saying, "I think something incredible was taken away from me and I will never forget it."
This week Strickland's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss Ujiri's countersuit claim, which doubled down on the narrative that Ujiri was the aggressor, claimed Ujiri was "massive" and therefore wasn't hurt, and cited qualified immunity to defend against Ujiri's claim that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The most appalling passage, first reported by Daniel Wallach, is an attempt to justify Strickland's use of force by invoking some of the most notorious instances of violence against athletes:
In light of Strickland's own body-camera footage, his insistence on playing the victim in this case is despicable. He was clearly not, as he says, "offering gentle physical guidance"; he told Ujiri to "back the fuck up, man" as he shoved him twice. At every turn, Strickland has leveraged the encounter to extract as much as he can from Ujiri, and he's done so with the arrogance of a man who knows he'll be protected by the system because he's a cop. If this incident hadn't involved an executive at the NBA Finals, Strickland probably would have gotten away with it. He still might.