New York Daily News

Updated: September 11, 2015, 7:13 AM

  

 

NYPD cop James Frascatore covered up his mistaken arrest of James Blake; police commissioner, mayor apologize to the tennis star

BY TINA MOORE, EDGAR SANDOVAL, THOMAS TRACY, CORKY SIEMASZKO

COURTESY
Officer James Frascatore (l.) was placed on desk duty and had his gun and badge yanked after detectives viewed the surveillance video from the hotel, sources said. He was after the man seen on the right, but mistakenly nabbed retired tennis star James Blake instead, according to cops.

The unapologetic cop who body-slammed tennis great James Blake outside a Midtown hotel without identifying himself as an officer allegedly tried to cover up the bogus arrest.

Officer James Frascatore failed to inform his superiors that he threw Blake to the sidewalk and cuffed him in the mistaken belief that he was a wanted credit card thief, police said Thursday.

It took Blake coming forward to the Daily News with accusations of being manhandled by a plainclothes cop outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel to put the incident on the NYPD’s radar.

“My concern is that after the release, there’s department protocols that should have been followed but apparently were not,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “Mr. Blake has made a number of comments to the press. That’s how we became aware of the matter.”

When asked what cops are supposed to do in such situations, one high-ranking source said, “Void the arrest, make notifications and say, ‘I’m sorry!’”

Frascatore, a four-year NYPD veteran who in the past has been accused of using excessive force and failing to identify himself as a cop, was placed on desk duty and had his gun and badge yanked after detectives viewed the surveillance video from the hotel.

“I have concerns about the takedown,” Bratton said. “The movement was a fast approach. Basically, grabbing Mr. Blake by the arm, moving him forward and then taking him down to the ground and immediately rear-cuffing him.”

agreed to meet with him, with Internal Affairs Bureau investigators, and de Blasio.

“Mr. Blake had no role or involvement in the criminal investigation that we were conducting and was totally innocent,” Bratton said.

JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton defended the officers who tackled James Blake.

Earlier, Blake, who is black, said an apology would be appreciated, but he wants something more.

“I’d like an explanation for how they conducted themselves because I think we all need to be held accountable for our actions, and police as well,” he told ABC News.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board has also opened an investigation, sources said.

The watchdog group is well-acquainted with Frascatore. As of last year, he had five complaints filed against him, according to court documents obtained by WNYC.

In one case, Frascatore was accused of using too much muscle and abusing his authority while arresting a man for marijuana possession. He also charged the man’s girlfriend with evidence tampering after she moved her beau’s bike following the arrest.

All criminal charges were later dropped. And the CCRB recommended that Frascatore be retrained on police protocol after determining that he failed to give his name or shield number during the arrest, WNYC reported.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch came to Frascatore’s defense.

“Placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted,” he said.

Frascatore is white. Blake, who was once ranked the No. 4 tennis player in the world, told The News he believes there was “probably a race factor involved.”

Bratton insisted race didn’t figure into the arrest.

“Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this,” he said. “If you look at the photograph of the suspect, it looks like the twin brother of Mr. Blake. So let’s put that nonsense to rest right now.”

Blake, who was on his way to a corporate appearance for Time Warner Cable at the U.S. Open, found himself in the cops’ cross hairs after he inadvertently walked into the middle of an NYPD sting operation on a Internet credit card theft ring.

Frascatore was one of six cops stationed outside the hotel ready to pounce on whomever showed up to pay the courier delivering some high-end designer shoes, police said.

They were armed with a photo of a man who bears some resemblance to Blake — an image the company that tipped off the cops about the alleged ring found on the Internet, a top police source told The News.

But the man who showed up to pick up the shoes was a 27-year-old British citizen named James Short, who is white and who was immediately busted without force after paying with a purloined American Express card, police said.

While police were cuffing Short, the courier and two of the company reps watching the arrest frantically pointed at Blake, who was standing nearby, the source said.

And Frascatore went after him.

“This was an instantaneous type of arrest,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

When police realized they nabbed the wrong man, they raced inside the Hyatt and arrested another Brit, 26-year-old Jarmaine Gray.

A high-ranking NYPD source who specializes in training cops said what troubles him most is that the officer who arrested and cuffed Blake never apologized.

“If a police officer makes a mistake, then he should apologize,” the source said. “When you’re wrong, you apologize and that’s basic. That’s police work 101.”

With Rachelle Blidner, Kerry Burke, Joe Stepansky, Jennifer Fermino, Rich Schapiro

tmoore@nydailynews.com