Wall Street Journal/YouTube

Tennis star James Blake shown in video getting tackled, arrested by NYPD

'Extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough.'


Josh Katzowitz


Published Sep 11, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 12:03 am CDT

James Blake thought the person who was running toward him on Wednesday was either a tennis fan or, maybe, somebody he knew from high school. The former American tennis star was mistaken. Instead, the man rushing him was a plainclothed cop who believed Blake was a suspect in a credit card fraud investigation.

And it got nasty for Blake. As you can see from the surveillance video released by the New York Police Department on Friday.

At the time Blake was hanging out, leaning against a pole after having just finished giving an interview. All of a sudden, the police officer emerged out of the blue and tackled him.

Blake—who was waiting to be driven to the U.S. Open to fulfill a corporate obligation to Time Warner Cable—suffered cuts to his elbow and bruises on his leg when he was tackled by the white cop. The officer tackled Blake and told him to roll over facedown. Blake recalled saying he would cooperate but he asked why he was being detained.

Five plainclothes officers—all apparently white—were in the area.

“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” Blake told the New York Daily News soon after the encounter. “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… You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something.’ I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close [to being OK]. It’s blatantly unnecessary. You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn’t OK, but it seems that there’s no stopping it.”

Blake said he never received an apology from the officer in the video above, but on Thursday New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton told Blake he was sorry and Mayor Bill de Blasio did the same. Bratton also said he didn’t believe the incident with Blake—who’s bi-racial—had anything to do with the color of his skin.

Meanwhile, the officer has been placed on desk duty while the NYPD investigates.

More from CNN:

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.

In a statement released by Blake on Friday, he said: 

When this incident was reported in the news media, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton both called me to extend their personal apologies, and I greatly appreciate those gestures. But extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough. As I told the Commissioner, I am determined to use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve. For that reason, I am calling upon the City of New York to make a significant financial commitment to improving that relationship, particularly in those neighborhoods where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently. The Commissioner has agreed to meet with my representatives and me to discuss our ideas in that regard, and we very much look forward to that meeting.”

Either way, tennis fans made sure to show their support for Blake on Friday.

Screengrab via Wall Street Journal/YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 11, 2015, 11:36 pm CDT