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California sheriff’s deputy suing Masai Ujiri for damages after NBA Finals altercation – The Globe and Mail



Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri speaks in Toronto, on July 20, 2018.

Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press

The Toronto Raptors said Monday that a lawsuit by a California sheriff’s deputy claiming team president Masai Ujiri assaulted him in the moments after the team won its first NBA championship was “without merit,” even as the deputy alleges he suffered permanent disabilities.

In the suit, filed Friday in U.S. federal court in Northern California, sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland alleges that Ujiri hit him in the face and chest, causing permanent disabilities, during an altercation at court level after the Raptors clinched the title versus the Golden State Warriors on the night of June 13 in Oakland.

According to the statement of claim, Strickland, an Alameda County Sheriff’s Department K-9 officer, was working a security point near the south end of the court at Game 6. The lawsuit alleges Ujiri failed to show the credentials needed to access the court to celebrate with Raptors players and staff. An altercation followed in which Strickland claims Ujiri hit him with both fists, sending him backward several feet.

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The lawsuit said Strickland is suing for unspecified financial damages for the “mental, physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering,” along with “lost wages, lost opportunity for financial gain, future earning capacity, and past and future medical care and expenses.”

The Raptors, its ownership group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., and the National Basketball Association are also listed as defendants in the case. The deputy’s lawyers allege that Ujiri’s actions were foreseeable and preventable because he “had a violent predisposition and propensity for physical violence.” Although it does not specifically cite other examples, the suit alleges that Ujiri “had engaged in prior similar criminal and/or violent conduct towards third parties including, but not limited to, NBA fans, NBA officials, and/or NBA players, on previous occasions.”

In a statement released on Monday, MLSE said, “We are disappointed but not at all surprised Mr. Strickland has elected to take this path. His claims are baseless and entirely without merit. They should and will be viewed appropriately for what they are. The Toronto Raptors and Masai have jointly retained very able counsel who will be handling this matter on our behalf and consequently, we do not intend to make any further statement about it.”

No statement of defence had been filed in the case as of Monday.

California lawyer Robert Beles, who represented Ujiri in the criminal investigation, denied Monday that the Raptors president had a history of behaving violently at games. “That is absolutely false. It’s absolutely not correct at all,” he said.

The Globe and Mail viewed still images derived from footage captured by the deputy’s body camera and security video at Oracle Arena showing Ujiri with his arms raised straight in front of him toward the deputy. However, the sheriff’s office declined to play the full videos, which it said could interfere with the criminal investigation. Four witnesses at the game who spoke to The Globe said they did not see Ujiri strike the deputy’s face.

Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, an elected official, had requested 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.

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But after a months-long investigation into the June incident, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office said it had decided not to charge Ujiri criminally, instead suggesting the dispute should be settled “outside of the courtroom.”

Beles said his office conducted a background investigation into the sheriff’s deputy and provided information to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office that was “an influential factor in no criminal case being filed” against Ujiri. Beles, who is not representing Ujiri in the civil lawsuit, declined to elaborate on what information he provided to prosecutors.

Strickland’s lawyer, David P. Mastagni, was not available for comment on Monday. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to a request for comment.

In a Sheriff’s Department incident report taken the night of the NBA Finals and obtained by The Globe under California’s public-records laws, Strickland alleged that he twice pushed Ujiri against his chest and used profanity to stop the Raptors president from accessing the court because he had not provided the required NBA-issued badge and yellow armband.

While another man, whom the Sheriff’s Department later identified as a Raptors employee, held the deputy back, Strickland alleged that Ujiri came toward him “raising both of his hands and striking with closed fists in a straight arm manner I would best describe as a double fist punch.”

According to the incident report, Strickland went to a local medical centre several hours later with a migraine, along with swelling and pain in his jaw. His lawyers previously said he had suffered a concussion.

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News of the lawsuit comes at a time when Ujiri, a native of Nigeria, has been travelling in Africa with Justin Trudeau as the Canadian Prime Minister attempts to garner support for landing Canada a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The two men also visited Canadian troops on Monday in Kuwait.

With a report from Marsha McLeod

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Blue Jays blank Royals as Manoah makes marvellous Rogers Centre debut –



TORONTO — The Blue Jays celebrated a second win in two starts in their Rogers Centre return thanks to co-starring performances from rookie pitcher Alex Manoah and centre fielder George Springer.

Manoah tossed seven shutout innings while Springer smashed home runs in his first two at-bats in Toronto’s 4-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. The Blue Jays arrived back home in Toronto on Friday after 22 months away because of the Covid-19 pandemic, playing home games in Buffalo and Dunedin, Fla.

Manoah made a return of sorts, too. He injured himself two weeks ago, slipping on the rain-soaked steps of the Blue Jays dugout in Buffalo. He suffered a right-back contusion. He yielded only a pair of singles in his 89-pitch outing.

“It kind of got me pretty good,” Manoah said when asked about his fall. “It was a long couple of weeks, and I’m just so happy and so grateful to be back on that mound.

“Body felt really good; everything felt good. I was able to throw a lot of strikes and get the boys a win.”

The 23-year-old Manoah (3-1) knew he would be keyed up for his first Rogers Centre start. So he attempted to control his adrenaline with deep breaths. He didn’t have the velocity he exhibited earlier in the season.

However, he still managed four strikeouts and retired 16 Royals in a row between Ryan O’Hearn’s one-out single in the second inning and Hunter Dozier’s two-out base hit in the seventh.

“We thought he was going to be rusty,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya said. “But he was throwing strikes.

“This kid didn’t have his best stuff, and he still can get you out.”

If Manoah can continue to chip in as he did on Saturday, the Blue Jays should have a scary starting rotation with their top four pitchers, led by Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu and newcomer Jose Berrios. The latter was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for shortstop/outfielder Austin Martin and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson on Friday.

Berrios, scheduled to start for the Twins on Friday, was expected to arrive at Rogers Centre on Saturday evening. Montoyo plans to start his new pitcher in the series finale on Sunday afternoon if he deems himself ready.

“I’ll be waiting here for him,” Montoyo said in his post-game remarks.

The Blue Jays also had to wait for Springer to make an impact this summer. The free agent signed a six-year, $150-million US contract with Toronto last January. But a right-quadricep strain limited his playing time earlier this season.

He found his form in July. His first-pitch leadoff homer down the left-field line, for his 40th career leadoff round-tripper, and his third-inning two-run blast were his 10th and 11th home runs of the year. He now has gone 19-for-49 (.388) in his last 13 games with six doubles, six homers and 10 RBI.

“Obviously, this is where I wanted to play,” said Springer, who has reached base 50 times in his 34 outings in 2021. “This is home. For us to have a chance to come back here, to play in front of the fans, the atmosphere has been unbelievable the last couple of games. It’s exciting.”

After Manoah departed, the Blue Jays received some substantial relief pitching from lefty Ryan Borucki and Adam Cimber. Borucki got the first two outs in the eighth inning, while Cimber closed down the Royals (45-58) with four straight strikeouts to end the game.

The Blue Jays (53-48) have won three in a row and four of their last five.

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Toronto's Penny Oleksiak makes history as Canada swims to bronze in medley relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Published Saturday, July 31, 2021 10:23PM EDT

Last Updated Saturday, July 31, 2021 10:23PM EDT

TOKYO — Canada’s women capped Olympic swimming with a bronze medal in the medley relay Sunday and produced a historic seventh career medal for Penny Oleksiak.

Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont., Sydney Pickrem of Clearwater, Fla., Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Toronto’s Oleksiak touched in 3:52.60, a Canadian record.

Australia took gold with an Olympic-record 3:51.60. The Americans were close behind, finishing second in 3:51.73.

Oleksiak swam the anchor freestyle leg into the history books as the most decorated Olympian in Canadian history. The 21-year-old surpassed speedskater Cindy Klassen and speedskater-cyclist Clara Hughes at six medals apiece.

“Knowing that I have the best girls in the world to race with, I pretty much had a medal in the back of my mind the whole race,” Oleksiak said. “I’m racing with three of the best swimmers in the world, so why should I worry?”

The achievement says a lot about Oleksiak’s depth of talent, said Marnie McBean, Canada’s chef de mission.

“Winning one medal is hard, and multiple at one Games is all about the ability to reset and focus. Winning multiple medals at multiple Games — that is a battle against so much more,” McBean, a three-time Olympian, said in a statement.

“The notion of repeating and the burden of expectations, internally and externally, can be so disruptive. Penny figured out how to thrive all while being an amazing role model to young Canadians.”

Masse led Canada off in backstroke followed by Pickrem’s breaststroke leg and Mac Neil in butterfly.

As Mac Neil hung the medal around Oleksiak’s neck during the medal ceremony, Masse applauded and Pickrem shimmied in celebration.

“Most decorated,” they chorused during post-ceremony interviews with reporters.

Oleksiak, Mac Neil and Masse claimed their third medals at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.

Mac Neil, 21, also captured 100-metre butterfly gold. She and Oleksiak took silver in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay on the first day of finals, so Mac Neil leaves Tokyo with a complete set.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept Canada’s swim team out of the water for large chunks of the last 15 months. Mac Neil said that didn’t stop the swimmers from challenging the world in Tokyo.

“We’ve had one of the strictest lockdowns in the entire world, so it was just putting in the training that we’ve doing for the last 15 months in and showing the world what we have,” Mac Neil said.

Masse, 25, earned a pair of silver in backstroke. Oleksiak, who revealed Sunday she’d been dealing with an ongoing back injury, also claimed bronze in the 200-metre freestyle.

The women’s swim team amassed six medals in Tokyo to equal its Rio count of five years ago.

Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., Pickrem, Mac Neil and Toronto’s Kayla Sanchez posted the fastest qualification time in Friday’s heats to give Canada a middle lane Sunday.

The medley relay medal was Canada’s first since 1988 and fourth in the 61-year Olympic history of race. Canadian women were bronze medallists in 1976, 1984 and ’88.

Oleksiak won 100-freestyle gold, 100-butterfly silver and anchored Canada to a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals at age 16 in Rio.

Heats, semifinals, finals and relays added up to 10 races over nine days for Oleksiak in Tokyo, where she added a pair of relay medals and the 200 free bronze to her total.

Canada’s men’s team finished seventh in the medley relay just minutes after the women left the pool Sunday.

Markus Thormeyer (backstroke), Gabe Mastromatteo (breaststroke), Joshua Liendo (butterfly) and Yuri Kisil (freestyle) finished in 3:32.42.

The U.S. took gold in the men’s event with a world record 3:26.78. Great Britain came second and Italy captured bronze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2021.

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Kylie Masse won her second medal of the Summer Olympics – Sports –



Make it an even dozen medals for Canada and a second for swimmer Kylie Masse at the Tokyo Olympics.

Masse won her second silver, finishing just behind Australian Kaylee McKeown in the women’s 200 metre backstroke.

She also won silver in the 100 backstroke.

Masse went out fast and led for much of the race. But, McKeown put on a strong kick over the final 25 metres to touch just ahead of Masse.

McKeown won in two minutes, 4.68 seconds, 74 one-hundredths ahead of Masse.

Masse’s time of 2:05.42 established a Canadian record in the event.

Kelowna-born Taylor Ruck was sixth in 2:08.24.

Masse joins Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak as double medalists at the Olympics.

Canada has a good chance for one final medal in the pool Saturday evening in the women’s 4×100 metre medley.

The team, which included Ruck, finished with the best time in their semi-final earlier in the day.

The roster for the team could change for the final.

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