The Oakland Police Department has handed its investigation into Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri over to a district attorney, following a physical altercation last month between Mr. Ujiri and an unnamed sheriff’s deputy over access to the court following the NBA Finals.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley received the police report into the dispute this week, her office confirmed.
The DA’s office has asked the police to conduct additional investigations, said spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, and has not yet made a decision on whether to charge Mr. Ujiri with any crime.
Ms. Drenick would not say what other information prosecutors needed to be able to finish the investigation, or how long it might take to decide whether to lay charges.
Police don’t typically recommend charges, with such decisions often left to the district attorney, an elected position. Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, also an elected official, has requested Mr. Ujiri be charged with battery of a peace officer, a misdemeanour punishable by up to a year in jail and a US$2,000 fine.
The report – which the Oakland police said it could not share with The Globe “because this is an open case” – is expected to shed light into what exactly transpired during a shoving match between the two men following the Raptors’ championship win.
It’s unclear what evidence is included in this report, though last month, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office showed The Globe still images derived from footage captured by the deputy’s body camera and security video at Oracle Arena. However, it declined to play the full videos, which it said could interfere with the investigation.
The sheriff’s office claims that Mr. Ujiri flashed his NBA-issued credentials backwards while making his way past the officer, shoving him aside. The officer then pushed back and asked for Mr. Ujiri’s badge, at which point he identified himself as the Raptors president, though the sheriff’s office says he was not wearing the yellow armband and purple badge needed to get on the court for the trophy celebrations.
In addition to rough handling the deputy, the sheriff’s office alleges that Mr. Ujiri struck the deputy’s jaw and shoulder.
Mr. Ujiri has not provided his perspective on the altercation, beyond a brief mention at a media conference two weeks after the Finals. “I am confident about who I am as a person, my character, and as a human being. For now, I’ll just respect their process there and wait for the next steps,” Mr. Ujiri said.
The Raptors have declined to comment on the altercation, or their role in making the passes available. During a title-clinching game, the NBA gives armbands and trophy passes to both teams for distribution to their staff.
The team would not confirm who is representing Mr. Ujiri in the case.
Four witnesses who spoke to The Globe last month said they did not see Mr. Ujiri strike the deputy’s face. The witnesses also said they have not been interviewed by investigators.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has not disclosed the identity of the deputy officer, who is a 13-year veteran, because the department has apparently received threats from angry fans. The deputy has no record of any disciplinary actions, it said.
The deputy’s lawyer, David P. Mastagni, declined to comment on the case, or provide an update on whether the deputy was back at work and whether he was still contemplating a lawsuit. He previously told The Globe that the deputy suffered a concussion.
“We were unaware that the Oakland Police Department had actually referred it to the DA, and we await the DA's findings,” Mr. Mastagni said.
With a report from Cathal Kelly