Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Ex-tennis star James Blake calls for change after NY arrest blunder

Published 22/09/2015

James Blake in action at Wimbledon in 2013
James Blake in action at Wimbledon in 2013

Former tennis star James Blake has met New York's mayor and police chief after being thrown to the ground by a policeman outside a hotel and mistakenly arrested.

Blake emerged from the meeting saying all three agreed about the need for lasting change in policing attitudes.

"We're not looking for a quick lawsuit," he said, after a meeting he described as very productive. "We're not looking for anything that's going to be a quick and easy solution. We're looking for a lasting, positive impact on the city and on the police force."

Blake, 35, said the big theme of the meeting with mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner William Bratton was accountability.

"(Mr de Blasio) spoke very clearly in there about not just making short-term changes, not making a change that's going to make a difference today that's going to be gone tomorrow but having an impact that's going to affect even generations," Blake said.

Blake, once ranked number four in the world before retiring from tennis after the 2013 US Open, was misidentified by a co-operating witness as being part of a scheme to sell fraudulently-bought goods before he was tackled by a plainclothes officer and handcuffed on September 9, police said. He was mistaken for a crime suspect who looked just like him, they said.

The arresting officer, James Frascatore, who was placed on desk duty, has been with the New York Police Department for four years and has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force.

He has also been the subject of four civilian complaints, an above-average number for an NYPD officer, according to complaint data.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents officers, said Mr Frascatore did a professional job of bringing Blake to the ground.

Blake's arrest was caught on a surveillance camera and prompted apologies from Mr de Blasio and Mr Bratton.

Blake had said the officer should be sacked, but following the meeting he said he understood due process, "the fact that he has rights in the court".

"I'm willing to respect that and I'll be aware how the trial, how the process takes place," Blake said.

Mr de Blasio said of the meeting: "We pledged a fair and expeditious investigation into his case and to find further common ground as we continue the work of reform."

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph