The New York City Police Department released security footage Friday showing a plainclothes officer throwing ex-tennis star James Blake to the ground violently and handcuffing him.
Police claimed later that Blake was mistaken for a suspect in an identity theft case.
The incident, captured by hotel security cameras, occurred earlier in the week, on Wednesday. It shows Blake, an African American, former U.S. No. 1 and world No. 4 tennis player, standing at the entrance of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, waiting for the arrival of a car to take him to the US Open.
An officer dressed in dark pants and white shirt approaches him and tackles him violently.
The video shows the officer, identified as James Frascatore, accosting Blake as he leans casually against a wall outside his hotel in Manhattan.
Frascatore throws Blake to the ground rather violently and handcuffs him. The police officer was reportedly in the company of four other colleagues.
On Thursday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton apologized to Blake.
And on Friday, Blake, who said he suffered cuts and bruises from the rough encounter, released a statement of his own, saying that an apology was “not enough.”
According to Blake, he was standing outside his hotel just before noon, Wednesday, waiting for a car to take him to the US Open when the officer grabbed him, threw him down, and handcuffed him.
He said the officers detained him for at least 10 minutes before they realized they had the wrong person.
He learned that the officers were investigating a case of credit card fraud.
“The officer… 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.”
Blake said that although he appreciated the apologies offered by Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton, he would like to see an effort to make a “financial commitment to improving that relationship, particularly in those neighborhoods where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently.”
He acknowledged that the commissioner had agreed to meet with his representatives and discuss how to implement his suggestion.
Meanwhile, media reports are saying that Frascatore has a long history of use of excessive force civil complaints against him. He has been sued four times, although he has been in the NYPD for only four years, according to New York Daily News.
He also reportedly has at least five complaints filed against him with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Blake has so far declined to state categorically that race played a role in the incident, although he expressed the feeling that it was possible. However, he said the officer used “unnecessary force.”
“To me it’s as simple as unnecessary police force… 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.”
“I probably even wouldn’t be so indignant about it, it if it wasn’t so obvious. It was so blatant. I was standing there doing nothing, not running, not resisting, in fact, smiling.”
Bratton described the incident as “disturbing” and said that the department’s internal affairs bureau was investigating. However, he denied vehemently that race played a role, saying, “Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this. If you look at the photograph of the suspect it looks like the twin brother of Mr. Blake. So let’s put that nonsense to rest right now, race has nothing to do with this.”