James Blake was once the world’s fourth greatest male tennis player, and after a highly publicized confrontation with an NYPD officer, he could be serving unwanted attention to the department.
Last week, Blake, who is biracial, was standing in front of the Hyatt Grand Hotel on 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan when plainclothes NYPD officer James Frascatore lunged at him, tackled him and put him in handcuffs.
Officers were working on a case involving credit card fraud. The NYPD said Blake looked identical to the man they were looking for.
Media reports initially indicated that Blake was handcuffed for 15 minutes. However, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that Blake was detained for only one minute. A video of the incident, released by the NYPD, has gone viral on social media.
Frascatore has had his gun and badge taken away from him and he’s has been placed on modified duty. However, Blake wants the officer fired.
“You’ve got the badge and [are] supposed to treat that with honor,” Blake said in an interview. “I don’t think he deserves to ever have a badge again.”
Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio personally apologized to Blake, but Blake is saying it’s not enough and that the incident could have gone another way and speaks to a bigger problem.
“If I had [offered] any sort of resistance, I wonder what could have happened. I could have broken bones, a concussion or worse,” Blake said.
When asked if race was a factor in the way Blake was treated, Bratton dismissed the accusation.
“I don’t believe that race was a factor,” Bratton said. “This rush to put a race tag on it, I’m sorry, that’s not involved in this at all.”
Speaking on several platforms, Blake has worked the media circuit about the abuse Black men who don’t have his status continue to face. He notes that what happened to him happens to too many Black men on a regular basis, with no apology or repercussions.
“I don’t want a lawsuit that says, ‘Here’s $5 million. Go away. We’re not going to talk about this again,’” he said. “I want to talk about this, open dialogue … about real solutions, accountability, about making sure that this isn’t going to happen.”
Reports surfaced last week about Frascatore’s past. Before the incident involving Blake, two other men, both Black, claimed they were brutalized by Frascatore. Leroy Cline and Warren Diggs both sued Frascatore, and the city is currently in the process for working out settlements for both men. Diggs alleges Frascatore punched him in the head and threw him to the ground while he was entering his home to show officers his ID.
Meanwhile, Cline alleges he was pulled over by Frascatore, and when Cline asked why he was being pulled over, Frascatore punched him in the mouth three times. Cline was also slammed on the hood of his car by officers.
In a statement, Patrolman Benevo lent Association President Pat Lynch said Frascatore believed that a crime had just been committed and that he acted accordingly, offering some form of apology to Blake.
“The apprehension was made under fluid circumstances where the subject might have fled and the officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground to prevent that occurrence,” Lynch said. “It is truly un- fortunate that the arrest was a result of mistaken identity by the complainant in the case, and we regret any embarrassment or injury suffered by Mr. Blake as a result.”