James Blake, the former tennis star who was wrongly tackled and cuffed by an NYPD plainclothes officer following a case of mistaken identity (dramatic footage of the arrest caught on a hotel security camera was released last week), is calling on the NYPD to fire the officer who tackled him, ESPN is reporting.
On September 9, the 35-year-old Blake was standing outside the Grand Hyatt New York when a plainclothes NYPD officer, later identified as James Frascatore, 38, approached Blake, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and led him away. Blake claims that the officer never identified himself. It was later revealed that Frascatore was acting on an anonymous tip that identified Blake as a person of interest in an investigation into a theft ring.
Though Blake was later released, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio apologized, Blake says those apologies are not enough — he wants Frascatore fired.
“I don’t think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I think that that kind of police officer tarnishes the badge, which I have the utmost respect for, and I believe that the majority of police officers do great work and they’re heroes. So this person doesn’t ever belong in the same sentence with the heroes that are doing the right kind of police work and keeping the public safe.”
Frascatore has been placed on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal NYPD investigation, and has not publicly commented on Blake’s arrest. However, the president of his union has gone to bat for him. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said in a statement that Frascatore acted “professionally” in arresting Blake.
“[Blake’s arrest was carried out] under fluid circumstances where the subject might have fled, and the officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground.”
Daily Kos columnist Shaun King describes Blake’s arrest as symptomatic of a larger problem of police brutality and racism within the NYPD.
“For a lot of Americans, this is the first time they’ve seen what black folks in America experience. The lived experience of black people is that you don’t have to live in Harlem, you don’t have to be wearing a certain type of clothes, but you see a former sports star properly groomed and he did nothing wrong — and still experienced brutality.”
Do you believe the James Blake footage proves that he was a subject to police brutality?
[Image courtesy of YouTube]