NYPD releases video of James Blake’s mistaken arrest
Surveillance footage released Friday by the New York City Police Department shows an officer grab hold of former tennis pro James Blake and wrestle him to the ground outside of a hotel during a controversial arrest that turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Blake, who was once the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world, was standing outside Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt Hotel and planned to attend the U.S. Open when the officer rushed him.
Blake has said he was detained for 15 minutes before he was released. A witness misidentified Blake as someone who had used a counterfeit credit card to buy a cell phone.
Blake, who said as many as five plainclothes officers were approaching him, does not appear to resist arrest in the video. The officer grabs hold of Blake’s wrist and arm, before placing a hand behind the 35-year-old’s head and forcing him to the ground.
The officer involved in the arrest has been placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the officer used “an inappropriate amount of force,” but denied claims that Blake was a victim of racial profiling.
The NYPD has been at the center of the national conversation about race and use of force by police in the last year after its officers were involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley.
Patrick Lynch, head of the NYPD’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has said Bratton overreacted by placing the officer on desk duty.
“We agree with the Police Commissioner that the first story is never the whole story and believe that placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted,” Lynch said in a statement. “No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts.”
Whether or not race was a factor, Blake believes he was a victim of excessive force.
“To me it’s as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is,” he told the New York Daily News on Thursday. “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.”
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