Retired top-10 tennis star James Blake was allegedly slammed to the ground, handcuffed and detained by five undercover New York Police Department cops who had mistaken him for a suspect in a fraud investigation.
NYPD has released footage of the incident. In the video, the plainclothes cop, James Frascatore, can be seen attacking Blake and slamming him to the ground as he leaned against the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
NYPD releases video of James Blake being arrested. pic.twitter.com/OD4HQINlJy— Ryan Ruggiero (@RyanRuggiero) September 11, 2015
Blake told New York Daily News he had just finished an interview for a tennis magazine and was leaving the the hotel on East 42nd Street for a U.S. Open corporate event when Frascatore charged at him, wrestled him to the ground, ordered him to roll over his face, and warned, “Don’t say a word.”
The officer was soon joined by four other policemen as Blake lay on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes.
The former tennis No. 4 and Harvard graduate claims he promised to cooperate and when he inquired why he was being detained, he was told, "We'll tell you. You are in safe hands."
"I didn't feel very safe," Blake added.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Braxton has exonerated Frascatore and apologized to Blake. But on Friday, Blake released a statement saying an apology is "not enough."
Just before noon on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, while I was standing on a sidewalk outside my hotel in midtown Manhattan waiting for a car to take me to the U.S. Open, a plainclothes New York City Police officer tackled me to the ground, handcuffed me, paraded me down a crowded sidewalk, and detained me for ten minutes before he and his four colleagues realized they had the wrong man.
The officer, who was apparently investigating a case of credit card fraud, did not identify himself as a member of law enforcement, ask my name, read me my rights, or in any way afford me the dignity and respect due every person who walks the streets of this country. And while I continue to believe the vast majority of our police officers are dedicated public servants who conduct themselves appropriately, I know that what happened to me is not uncommon.
When this incident was reported in the news media, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton both called me to extend their personal apologies, and I greatly appreciate those gestures. But extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough. As I told the Commissioner, I am determined to use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve. For that reason, I am calling upon the City of New York to make a significant financial commitment to improving that relationship, particularly in those neighborhoods where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently. The Commissioner has agreed to meet with my representatives and me to discuss our ideas in that regard, and we very much look forward to that meeting.
Although he isn’t sure if the incident was a case of racial profiling, Blake, who is African-American, believes the use of force was unwarranted, especially when he agreed to cooperate.
"I don't know if it's as simple as that. To me it's as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is. In my mind there's probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody," he told the Daily News on Wednesday.
Yet Bratton disagrees, saying in an interview with CNN'S "New Day" on Thursday, "Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this."
But race did play a role in this violent arrest. Race is a subconscious element in our everyday interactions and research has shown that our inherent racial biases manifest intuitively and often unknowingly. This incident is no exception.
Frascatore has a long history of civilian abuses as the Daily News reported. The cop has been sued four times for using excessive force in false arrests during his four years on the force. He also has five complaints against him with the Civilian Review Board.
Earlier this year, NBA player and trilingual Switzerland native Thabo Sefolosha, who is black, claimed NYPD officers broke his leg for allegedly interfering at the scene of a stabbing.