Surveillance video released Friday shows an undercover NYPD officer tackle former tennis star James Blake to the ground outside a midtown hotel this week and put him in handcuffs, a mistaken arrest that prompted apologies from the city's top cop and its mayor.
The video shows Blake, 38, leaning against a pillar outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel Wednesday, waiting for a car to take him to Flushing Meadows, when an undercover officer in a white T-shirt and pants rushes up to him, grabs his arms and drags him a bit along the street before tackling him to the ground and handcuffing him.
Blake barely moves during the confrontation as the officer flips him onto his stomach, knee pressed into his back, to put on the cuffs.
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Eventually the officer rolls Blake over and helps him sit up, then hoists him up by his arm and walks him down the street, out of view of the camera.
The officer who tackled him, identified by the Associated Press as James Frascatore, has been placed on modified duty, stripped of his gun and badge, pending the outcome of an investigation by internal affairs. The NYPD said internal affairs detectives interviewed Blake Thursday and provided a copy of the video to the former tennis star's attorney as they continue to investigate the false arrest.
Authorities have described the arrest as a case of mistaken identity. They say a courier they were working with to take down suspects in a fraudulent online credit card ring misidentified Blake as one of the supsects with whom he had worked. Once the courier made the identification, Frascatore, one of the half a dozen undercover detectives working the case, rushed Blake, authorities have said.
In a statement Friday, Blake said the plainclothes cop "paraded me down a crowded sidewalk and detained me for 10 minutes before he and his four colleagues realized they had the wrong man."
"The officer, who was apparently investigating a case of credit card fraud, did not identify himself as a member of law enforcement, ask my name, read me my rights, or in any way afford me the dignity and respect due every person who walks the streets of this country," Blake said. "And while 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."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio both apologized to Blake Thursday -- but Blake says he wants more.
"Extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough," Blake said. "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."
Blake said he is calling on the city to make a "significant financial commitment" to improve the relationship between police and the public they service, particularly in neighborhoods "where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently."
De Blasio and Bratton said in a joint statement Friday that they're both prepared to meet with Blake to discuss those issues and initiatives. They said the city has already invested nearly $29 million to retrain about 22,000 uniformed officers, and thousands more will be retrained in the coming months. They also highlighted their new neighborhood policing strategy.
The statement read: "This Administration will continue to vigorously implement these reforms that build trust and respect between police officers and the people they serve, while also keeping New York City the safest big city in America."
Bratton also said Thursday the internal affairs investigation will focus on whether the use of force in taking down Blake was appropriate; he has said it appears as if it were excessive. Bratton also said investigators would look into whether appropriate protocol was followed in documenting the false arrest after Blake was released, which was immediately after detectives realized he was not the suspect they were looking for.
According to the Associated Press, Frascatore has a history of excessive-force allegations.
Records show Frascatore, who has four years on the force, was the subject of five civilian complaints in a seven-month period of 2013, according to radio's WNYC, and he has been named in two federal civil rights lawsuits as being among a group of officers accused of beating, pepper spraying and falsely arresting two Queens men in separate incidents that year.
Bratton said investigators reviewing Frascatore's disciplinary record would do so "understanding that some of those issues were exonerated." He didn't elaborate.
A number listed for Frascatore, 38, wasn't in service Friday and a spokesman for his union declined to comment on the claims.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement Friday, "The police officer was apprehending what he had every reason to believe was an individual who had just committed a crime. The apprehension was made under fluid circumstances where the subject might have fled and the officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground to prevent that occurrence."
He continued: "It is truly unfortunate that the arrest was a result of mistaken identity by the complainant in the case and we regret any embarrassment or injury suffered by Mr. Blake as a result."
Bratton said earlier this week what Blake experienced should not have happened. And Blake says he wants an explanation.
"I'd like an explanation for how they conducted themselves because I think we all need to be held accountable for our actions, and police as well," Blake said on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday.
Blake, who had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world and reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, retired after the 2013 U.S. Open.
He won 10 singles titles, most recently in 2007. Twice he reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, a hometown tournament that seemed to bring out his best play.