SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California sheriff’s spokesman says a deputy involved in an encounter with the president of the Toronto Raptors complained of pain in his jaw and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Friday that Raptors President Masai Ujiri hit the deputy with his arm on the side of his face as Ujiri shoved him to try to get onto the court after the Raptors won the NBA championship on Thursday in Oakland.
Kelly says Ujiri also shouted obscenities at the deputy.
He says the incident started when Ujiri tried to walk past the deputy, who was checking credentials.
Kelly says investigators are reviewing footage from body cameras worn by the deputy and other officers, the stadium’s surveillance video and cellphone video.
He says a report will be forwarded prosecutors who will decide whether to charge Ujiri.
Warriors season ticket holder Greg Wiener said the deputy didn’t ask for any credentials before putting his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushing him. He says he did not see the deputy being hit in the face.
“The thing about the cops saying the policeman asked for his credentials, that didn’t happen. There was no conversation at all,” Wiener said.
“This part about striking him in the face, yeah that didn’t happen,” he added.
Wiener said the encounter began when the deputy put his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushed him. Ujiri shoved him back before bystanders intervened, Wiener said, adding that he has not been interviewed by authorities.
“This looks like somebody trying to embellish what happened to protect what they did, what the policeman did,” he said.
A video of the altercation obtained by NBC Bay Area shows Ujiri and a deputy being held back courtside by several bystanders. It doesn’t show a scuffle.
The video appeared to show Ujiri holding some type of credential in his right hand while standing by the court.
The Raptors said in a statement to The Associated Press that the team is also looking into the altercation.
“The incident is being looked at, and we are cooperating with authorities,” the team said. “We look forward to resolving the situation.”
Ujiri had watched the end of the game on television with other team officials outside the Raptors’ locker room. He then went down a tunnel to join the on-court celebration, ESPN reported.
The NBA requires extra credentials to gain access to the floor when the series is clinched, including a gold armband.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league was cooperating with authorities.
“We are in contact with the Raptors and local authorities and in the process of gathering more information,” Bass said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory came to Ujiri’s defense.
“Anybody who knows anything about him would say that some notion that he would be shoving people around in Oakland or elsewhere in the world is not credible,” Tory said.
Kelly, the sheriff’s spokesman, did not immediately return a phone message seeking further comment from the AP.