A post-game confrontation caught on video involving the Toronto Raptors president and a Sheriff's deputy has triggered an investigation. In a statement Friday morning, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it is pursuing a misdemeanor complaint against the president of the Toronto Raptors.
"We can confirm our deputy was pushed and struck by a Raptors executive after he asked him for his credentials to go on the court at the end of the game," Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said in a statement first reported by NBC Bay Area. "We are working with the Oakland Police Department to file a report and contact witnesses and review video."
The incident between the officer and the executive, identified as Raptors President Masai Ujiri, took place after the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 in Oracle Arena Thursday night, a victory that secured Ujiri's team the championship. Law enforcement says Ujiri shoved and struck an officer in the face after he was stopped from joining the team on the court for the championship celebration. Ujiri, they say, failed to show them the required credential.
Video published by NBC Bay Area's Kristofer Noceda shows Ujiri appear to shove an officer, which results in a chaotic moment where a man, who presumably works with the team, attempts to keep the officers from taking action against Ujiri.
"Sheriff's deputy reportedly pushed and struck in the face by a man believed to be a Toronto Raptors executive after Game 6 of the #NBAFinals at Oracle Arena, @ACSOSheriffs says," Noceda tweeted Thursday night. NBC's Raj Mathai added in a follow-up post: "Raptors exec (believed to be Team President Masai Ujiri) involved in courtside altercation after the game. @ACSOSheriffs say he hit a deputy in the face. We're waiting response from @NBA."
Ujiri appears to be holding what may be his credential in his right hand; another video showing Ujiri waiting in the tunnel before the incident also appears to show him holding the credential, USA Today reports. The outlet notes, however, that NBA rules specify that "only personnel with specially designated gold armbands were allowed on the court after the conclusion of the game, and it's unclear if Ujiri was wearing one or had one in his possession."
Response online to Noceda's post of the video online immediately became racially charged, with several responders assuming the deputy's actions were racially motivated. "If the sheriffs have a clue, they will back the hell down, chalk it up to a mistake on both sides and move along. No doubt they laid hands first, and I bet it was because they could never fathom a black man was the president of a team," wrote one responder. "Black man with an African accent...cop probably still doesnt believe it," wrote another.
Some came to the officer's defense. "Switch it up tho, say hes just some rando in a suit and gets into it with, or assaults, a player out there and then cop says 'oh I saw him but he said he was the team prez and had a nice suit on so I let him through.' Then where we at?" tweeted one defender. But most weren't so willing to give a white officer the benefit of the doubt. "But how can he not know who the opposing team's president is, especially knowing the possibility of an on court celebration of the Raptors win?? That would just be gross negligence on the staff at Oracle to have not been prepared for that regardless!" one person fired back.