Monday 24 October 2016

James Blake arrest officer 'should be sacked'

Published 13/09/2015 | 05:59

Former tennis star James Blake discusses his mistaken arrest by the New York City Police Department (AP)
Former tennis star James Blake discusses his mistaken arrest by the New York City Police Department (AP)

Former tennis star James Blake has said the police officer who wrongfully arrested him should be sacked.

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Blake, 35, was tackled to the ground during the incident, which was caught on camera and prompted apologies from the New York mayor and police commissioner.

He said: "I don't think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again."

The complaint comes a day after surveillance video of the arrest outside a Manhattan hotel and details about previous complaints over the officer's use of force became public.

Blake, who had been ranked as high as number four in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open, was misidentified by a witness as being part of a scheme to sell fraudulently purchased merchandise when he was tackled, police have said.

The arresting officer, James Frascatore, 38, who has been with the NYPD for four years, has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force.

He has also been the subject of four civilian complaints - an above-average number for NYPD officers, according to complaint data.

"I think that that kind of police officer tarnishes the badge, which I have the utmost respect for, and I believe that the majority of police officers do great work and they're heroes," Blake said.

"So this person doesn't ever belong in the same sentence with the heroes that are doing the right kind of police work and keeping the public safe."

On Friday, the patrolmen's benevolent association president Patrick Lynch said Blake's arrest 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".

Frascatore has been placed on desk duty while internal affairs detectives continue their investigation.

At issue is not only Blake's takedown but whether the use-of-force was not properly reported up the chain of command - leaving police brass to learn of it only after Blake spoke to the media.

Police commissioner William Bratton, who earlier this week apologised personally to Blake, ultimately will decide Frascatore's fate.

Blake said he was appreciative of Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio's apologies, as well as invitations to discuss further policing issues, including the use of body cameras, training and ways to ensure more accountability.

But he also said he hoped others who have been wrongly arrested or mistreated by officers would receive the same treatment.

"I'm sure this isn't the first time police brutality has happened and I'm sure it's not the last time," he said.

"So I want them to apologise to the people that this happens to that don't have the same voice that I have."

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