Former American tennis star James Blake was involved in a scuffle with the NYPD on September 9. The retired athlete was in New York, leaving the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd Street around noon when he was pushed down by a police officer. Soon after, the 35-year-old was surrounded by several other officers and handcuffed. However, none of it was his fault, because he wasn’t doing anything wrong!
The officers in plain clothes mistook Blake for a fraudulent credit card suspect in an ongoing case. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton told NY1 that what happened with Blake was quite “disturbing” and that he had every “right to be upset about it.”
By late Wednesday evening, officials had already assessed a video of the incident, according to a police officer who wished to remain anonymous due to the current proceedings of the inquiry.
The officer who initiated the arrest is expected to be put on modified assignment no sooner than September 10, the official added. “The bottom line is they got the wrong guy.”
James Blake retired two years ago and was in the Big Apple on business duties, making appearances on behalf of corporate sponsors at the U.S. Open. In an interview with The Daily News, he said that in spite of revealing his identity to them, they forcibly detained him for approximately 15 minutes while confirming.
He also added that he suffered cuts and bruises from the officer’s startling attack. Blake pointed out that it regardless of what his race was, he felt it was a case of “unnecessary police force.” The former tennis champion, whose late father was African American and his mother Caucasian, remarked that while he may have a race bias in his mind, the action was completely unjustified.
Referring to the extreme use of force he said, “I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s blatantly unnecessary.”
Meanwhile, siding with justice, Officer Bratton explained his plans to “aggressively address” the issue. He maintained that such excessive use of force would not be tolerated, but added, “The first story is never the last story.”
In addition to the police and Blake himself, bystanders retold their version of what they witnessed. They said that the undercover officers were investigating a group who were believed to be using credit cards illegally to purchase mobile phones. As part of the inquiry, a private service was sent to deliver the phones to a suspect who was then asked to single out delivery recipients. He proceeded to point out two people in the lobby, one of whom happened to be none other than James Blake.
A mayoral spokesperson said in a statement, “We deeply regret the incident,” and Blake, who at first was seeking an apology from NYPD, has decided to wait for the investigation’s outcome.
Robbins, L., et al., “James Blake, Retired Tennis Pro, Says Police Pushed Him Down; Inquiry Is Opened,” The New York Times web site, September 9, 2015.