NY police chief apologizes to arrest ex-tennis star
Updated: 2015-09-11 09:27
James Blake of the US gets ready to serve to compatriot John Isner at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, in this file photo taken August 4, 2011. New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said on Thursday he was concerned over the level of force used in the arrest of retired US tennis star Blake, who was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring. [Photo/Agencies]
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton apologized on Thursday to former US tennis star James Blake, who was arrested after being wrongly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring and said he was concerned over how much force was used.
Blake, who is black, was surrounded by six plainclothes officers outside a Midtown Manhattan hotel on Wednesday while waiting for a car to take him to the US Tennis Open. One of the officers slammed the 35-year-old man to the ground before handcuffing him.
The incident involving a well-known athlete revived questions over excessive police force that reverberated around the country after a series of police killings of unarmed black men that sparked sometimes violent protests.
"I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday's incident," Bratton said in a statement. "Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues."
Bratton earlier told reporters the officer who tackled Blake had been put on desk duty while the department reviewed the incident.
"I have concerns about the takedown," said Bratton, adding he had seen a video of the arrest.
"The concern we had: Was the force used appropriate, and the initial review - we believe it may not have been," added Bratton, who was appointed by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio at a time when he was trying to improve relations between police and minority residents of the city.
Police said Blake, at one time ranked fourth in the world, had been mistakenly identified by a cooperating witness as a suspect in a fraud ring.
Bratton said he was also concerned that no report had been made of Blake's arrest and detention, which became public after the former player reported it to the New York Daily News.
Blake told ABC's "Good Morning America" he decided to go public with the incident after discussing it with his wife and imagining how he would have felt if she had been treated in that way.
"I was furious because I thought about what I would be thinking if someone did that to my wife, if someone tackled her in broad daylight, paraded her around in a busy, crowded sidewalk in New York City with handcuffs," Blake said.