NEW YORK CITY — The head of the city’s largest police union came out swinging Tuesday at “pundits” and “arm chair judges” who called for the immediate dismissal of the NYPD officer who tackled former tennis star James Blake outside the Grand Hyatt last week.
Patrick Lynch, in an open letter addressed “to all arm-chair judges,” fired back at “editorial writers” and those who are calling for the dismissal of Officer James Frascatore without affording him due process by coming “to an instant conclusion that an officer’s action were wrong based upon nothing but silent video.”
“That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American,” Lynch continued. “Worse than that your uninformed rhetoric is inflammatory and only serves to worsen police/community relations.”
Blake was standing outside the Grand Hyatt last Wednesday waiting to go to the U.S. Open when Frascatore grabbed him, pulled him to the ground and handcuffed him during a credit card fraud investigation.
Two other suspects were arrested, but Blake was wrongly identified as one of them.
The ex-tennis star and Harvard University grad blasted Frascatore for failing to identify himself as an officer and inform him why he was being manhandled and handcuffed.
He also called for Fascatore’s firing, citing other civilian complaints against him, including an allegation he punched a Queens motorist over a broken tail light.
Lynch countered that “in the unfortunate case of former tennis pro, James Blake — who was clearly but mistakenly identified by a complainant — there certainly can be mitigating circumstances which caused the officer to handle the situation in the manner he did. Do they exist? Frankly, no one will know for sure until there is a full and complete investigation.”
But Blake is far from alone in demanding Frascatore’s firing.
For example, The New York Times in Tuesday’s editions called upon NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio to dump Frascatore “to make an example of him.” They even went so far to say prosecutors should consider arresting Frascatore for assault.
But Lynch insists the public should try to understand the dangerous complexities of police work.
“If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good,” Lynch said.
Evoking the Marine colonel character played by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men," Lynch added, “the men and women of the NYPD are once again disheartened to read another the knee-jerk reaction from ivory tower pundits who enjoy the safety provided by our police department without understanding the very real risks that we take to provide that safety.
“It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong,” Lynch concluded.
For his part, Bratton has said he is concerned about the excessive force used by Frascatore in making the arrest of a suspect in a non-violent crime. Questions also are being explored about why he acted alone without the rest of his team.
Sources say Frascatore, an officer for four years, is expected to be questioned by the end of the week by internal investigators.
No charges have been filed against him.