MIDTOWN — A Los Angeles banker who witnessed tennis star James Blake mistakenly body-slammed and handcuffed by police, said Thursday he was shocked and disturbed by the swiftness and the violence of the incident.
David Thurber was smoking a cigarette outside the Grand Hyatt around noon Wednesday when a plainclothes police officer suddently body-slammed Blake as the tennis pro waited for a car to bring him to the U.S Open.
"It didn't look like he knew what was going on. It was real sudden," Thurber, 48, said.
"He sure as hell wasn't read his rights. He was literally standing there one second and the next he was down. Basically [the police officer] said 'shut up' or 'be quiet' or something like that," the eye-witness added.
Thurber said he didn't hear the police officer identify himself.
The violent take-down of Blake quickly became a public relations headache for the NYPD and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly apologized for the incident during a press conference on Thursday morning. He said Blake had been mistaken for a suspect wanted for credit card fraud.
Thurber, a hotel guest at the Grand Hyatt who had checked in the night before, called the incident "shocking" and "disturbing."
"He was dropped by an athletic, muscular white guy who had what looked like a gun under his shirt and handcuffs. He was on his stomach with his arms pulled back around. It was really disturbing to witness," he said.
"It's scary because it could've been anybody. He looked like a normal guy. He wasn't bothering anyone," he added.
"The police need to be more careful about who they violently arrest," the banker said, "Just imagine if he fought back. It could've gone wrong in so many ways."
Blake, who got a couple of bruises in the incident, called the event a "blatant" use of excess force by the NYPD during an interview with "Good Morning America," on Thursday morning.
Later on Thursday, Bratton said he was concerned about the "inappropriateness of the amount of force that was used during the arrest," and that the on-going investigation would determine if that use of force was appropriate.
The plainclothes officer who tacked Blake has since been place on administrative duties, Bratton added.