The video released Friday by the New York Police Department shows retired tennis star James Blake leaning against a column outside his Manhattan hotel. Suddenly a plainclothes officer runs up to him, throws him to the ground and handcuffs him.
As the Two-Way reported earlier this week, the officer mistakenly identified Blake as a suspect in an ongoing investigation of identity theft.
James Frascatore, the officer who arrested Blake, has a history of excessive-force allegations. As WNYC reports, he was “named in five civilian complaints during one seven-month period in 2013.” And according to the Associated Press, Frascatore is part of two federal civil right cases “involving men who claim they were beaten, pepper-sprayed and falsely arrested.”
Though both New York Police Commissioner William Bratton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have since apologized to Blake, he said in a statement today that he is “determined to use [his] voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between police and the public they serve.” Blake’s full statement read:
“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.”