NYC Police Commissioner Apologizes for Arrest of Fmr-Tennis Pro James Blake

james-blaker

The New York Police Department commissioner apologized on Thursday for the mistaken arrest of James Blake, a retired top-10 professional tennis player, who said he was slammed to the ground outside his hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

The commissioner, William J. Bratton, said he wanted “to extend a personal apology’’ to Mr. Blake.

The officer who detained Mr. Blake, who is biracial, has been placed on desk duty. Mr. Bratton expressed concern about “the inappropriateness of the amount of force that was used during the arrest.”

An initial review of video evidence of the arrest, Mr. Bratton said, led him to believe that it may not have been appropriate.

Mr. Blake said he was slammed to the ground by a police officer outside his hotel on Wednesday and detained for 15 minutes after being mistaken for a suspect in an investigation of possible credit card fraud.

A team of officers, all of whom were white, approached Mr. Blake after a courier identified him as having fraudulently bought merchandise, police officials said.

The Police Department’s decision to place the officer on desk duty was a tacit acknowledgment that video of the encounter, which has been reviewed by investigators, raised questions about the officer’s actions.

The episode immediately drew criticism at a time when officers’ tactics are under withering scrutiny across the country, and police agencies and elected officials are trying to address concerns about how officers treat black people.

Mr. Blake, 35, whose mother is white and whose father was black, said he had cuts and bruises as a result of the encounter. He was in New York to make appearances for corporate sponsors at the United States Open on Wednesday when he said he left the Grand Hyatt New York on East 42nd Street and was accosted by a plainclothes officer.

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SOURCE: BENJAMIN MUELLER and AL BAKER
The New York Times

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