By now many people would have heard about 35-year old former US tennis star James Blake being tackled by a plain clothes policeman while he was waiting outside the fancy Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City for a car to take him to the US Open. The police claim that it was a case of mistaken identity. While that may well be true, it is incredible how brutally Blake was tackled, leaving him with cuts and bruises, when he was simply standing there minding his own business
Both the city’s police commissioner Bill Bratton and mayor Bill de Blasio have apologized for the incident, because Blake’s fame has prompted media coverage. But how many unknown young black people are treated like this and never receive any apology?
The officer, James Frascatore, who is white, is a defendant in two federal lawsuits filed earlier that allege excessive force in separate incidents.
Last year, Frascatore was named in an amended complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn alleging he and seven other officers and sergeants beat and unlawfully arrested a man in a Queens deli in May 2013.
The officer is also named in a complaint filed in May alleging that officers used excessive force against a man named Warren Diggs for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk in 2013. The city denies the allegations in an answer to the complaint, according to court paperwork.
While Bratton apologized he also defended the police action and said that race had nothing to do with it.
“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,” Bratton said on CNN.
“So let’s put that nonsense to rest right now, race has nothing to do with this. We have a witness who identified Mr. Blake as an individual who he had sold a phone to and had been given a false credit card.”
Cops eventually figured out Blake was completely innocent.
Bratton defended his cops: “The officers acted on that information, the witness was there and pointed him out and turns out he was not the individual. They look so much alike.”
Even if the suspect and Blake looked somewhat alike, the offense was a petty white collar crime involving a fake credit card, not a violent crime. Why should the suspect be tackled like that without the officer identifying himself and the suspect being questioned first?
Apart from the security video revealing that the assault was totally unprovoked, it is noteworthy how many people simply walk past, except for one woman who said something.