Advantage, Mr. James Blake. Retired tennis star James Blake was roughed up and taken down by an undercover NYPD cop in early September in a mistaken-identity sting. Video released to the public shows Blake awaiting a car to take him to the U.S. Open when an officer grabs him by the arm and neck, twists him to the ground and puts him in handcuffs.
Blake is scheduled to meet with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to discuss the incident, reports CBS New York on Sept. 21. “Surveillance video of Blake’s arrest on Sept. 9 outside the Grand Hyatt New York Hotel shows the officer charge at Blake, grab him by the arm and roughly take him to the ground,” the site reports.
Blake was shortly released after another NYPD detective – who fortunately for Blake was a tennis fan – recognized him and advised the officer that he had the wrong man. The mayor and commissioner have both issued formal apologies to Blake, but it’s thought the former number-four ranked singles player wants to discuss further action, pending a potential lawsuit.
“I want to make very clear I’ve reached out to Mr. Blake, and I want to talk to him because I want to apologize to him on behalf of the city of New York,” de Blasio said a day after the incident. “This shouldn’t have happened, and he shouldn’t have been treated this way,” de Blasio said, adding that he and Commissioner Bratton “are going to constantly improve the training of the men and women of the NYPD to focus on using only the force that’s needed in each situation.”
Bratton said Blake was “inappropriately arrested and detained” by an officer, and confirmed Blake had “no involvement in the criminal investigation” and was “totally innocent.” Police were at the hotel to investigate a credit card fraud scheme and an informant mistakenly identified Blake as the suspect.
The officer involved in the incident has been placed on desk duty, pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation.
James Blake’s mother Betty Blake, 80, who is white and raised two biracial sons with her black husband Thomas, said shortly after her son’s arrest: “I believe the great majority of people who read this story know it has to do with race. It seems there’s no end to racism in this country – in fact, it seems to get worse.
“I felt guilt for having brought him into a world where this can happen — my beautiful son, who has experienced so much love and admiration, not just for his tennis prowess but for his character, taken down and humiliated by someone who apparently judged him only by his outward appearance,” she said, according to Raw Story.
Blake said that while he was being taken down, and for the ten to fifteen minutes that he sat there handcuffed, no officer ever advised him why he was being targeted.
“I think about how scary it would have been had I put my arms up and done the normal reaction… to defend myself,” the 35-year-old Blake told CNN on Sept. 12. “If I had any sort of resistance, I wonder what could have happened. I could have broken bones, a concussion or worse.”
CNN identified the officer as James Frascatore, a white detective who is already a defendant in two federal lawsuits alleging excessive use of force in separate incidents of police brutality.
“I don’t want a lawsuit that says, ‘Here’s $5 million. Go away. We’re not going to talk about this again,’” Blake said. “I want to talk about this, open dialogue … about real solutions, accountability, about making sure that this isn’t going to happen.”
Blake says the officer deserves to lose his job.
“You wonder how many times it’s happened without anyone knowing,” Blake said. “I’ve gotten emails and texts from people that tell me, ‘This happened to me. This happened to my friend, my father, my brother,’” he said. “None of them get public apologies. They deserve the same treatment I’m getting… You’ve got the badge and [are] supposed to treat that with honor. I don’t think he deserves to ever have a badge again.”
Agree with James Blake?