NEW YORK CITY — After apologizing to tennis star James Blake for being mistakenly tackled and arrested by police last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is moving forward from the incident.
Blake was tackled Wednesday outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on E. 42nd Street after being mistaken for an identity theft suspect. A video released by police shows James Frascatore, a 38-year-old officer, tackling Blake outside the hotel before flipping him over on his stomach, placing him in handcuffs and leading him away from the scene.
"I obviously have apologized to Mr. Blake and the video certainly made clear why the apology was the right thing to do. But the real issue here is where are we going?" de Blasio said Monday during an unrelated press conference at NYPD headquarters.
Police say that Blake, who is black, was incorrectly identified by a person involved in the investigation. But an investigation by WNYC shows that Frascatore racked up five civilian complaints during a seven month stretch in 2013.
Blake, who is retired from tennis and was in town to do promotional events related to the U.S. Open, was handcuffed and detained for 15 minutes. He has said that he believed race to be a factor in what happened to him and called for the officer to be fired.
"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 in a statement Friday.
"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," the former fourth ranked tennis player in the world continued.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said the officer was placed on modified duty after the details in the case were reviewed.
"It was very quickly apparent that he was a total innocent if you will in this matter and warranted an apology both from me as chief of the police department and the mayor," Bratton said of Blake.
"As has been my practice if I think that there's been inappropriate behavior as the investigation begins, I will place the officer in a variety of forms that we can do: suspension, modification, desk duty. That investigation, as it goes forward will take a look at the veracity of what occurred," the commissioner added.
Asked about Blake's statement that the swift apologies from Bratton and de Blasio may have been part of "extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police," de Blasio, who ran on a platform of improving relations between police and minority communities, talked about pre-existing efforts to retrain police in use of force.
"This is one incident but really what matters here is the major policy changes, the major resources we are putting into reform in this department. The retraining is being done on a level that's never been seen previously in this city and I commend the commissioner for his vision of how to help this department to a better place," said de Blasio.
"My view is this is about moving forward as a city," he added.
Blake has said in interviews that he wants to use what happened to him to bring attention to the regular citizens that similar things happen to but who don't get the same attention.
"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 in his statement.