Ex-tennis pro James Blake is keeping the pressure on the New York Police Department in the aftermath of being body-slammed by an officer in a purported case of mistaken identity earlier this week.
Blake was violently tackled and handcuffed by NYPD Officer James Frascatore on Wednesday outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. Blake was waiting for a ride to the U.S. Open and was allegedly mistaken by Frascatore for a suspect in a credit card scam. Frascatore, who has been named in two federal investigations and has been the subject of at least four civilian complaints, is currently on active desk duty while the NYPD investigates his actions.
Despite being offered a public apology from NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, Blake has not backed down from speaking out about the way he was treated, and he has shied away from suggesting race may have been a factor. Blake, who was once one of the highest-ranked tennis players in the world, is African-American.
In an interview with the New York Post on Saturday, Blake said of Frascatore: “I don’t think he deserves to have a badge. I hope he can never do that to anyone else and get away with it. I hope he can never do that again under the shield of the New York Police Department.”
“I know they put him on modified assignment, which is a good first step, but I do think there needs to be more actions taken,” Blake added. “It’s not his first brush with a civilian complaint. I don’t think this is his first time doing this. I don’t think this is one error in judgment. I think it’s a pattern and it needs to be corrected.”
Previously, Blake said, "I continue to believe the vast majority of our police officers are dedicated public servants who conduct themselves appropriately, I know that what happened to me is not uncommon."
The video of Blake's encounter with Frascatore was released Friday, and it appears to corroborate Blake's version of events. (He also claims Frascatore never identified himself as an officer, but the footage doesn't include audio.) The footage has resurrected national scrutiny of excessive police practices in the wake of a series of controversial deaths of unarmed African-Americans while in custody of law enforcement.
Frascatore has claimed that he told Blake he was a policeman and to freeze when he approached him, a version of the events Blake vehemently denies. “At no time did he let me know he was police officer. He just threw the cuffs on me and said, ‘Stand up,'” Blake told "Good Morning America" on Thursday.
Commissioner Bratton has repeatedly denied race played a role in the way Blake was treated, but the tennis star himself has said: "In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what, there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”