Wall Street Journal
Upd. Sept. 11, 2015 8:03 p.m.


NYPD Releases Video of Tennis Star James Blake’s Arrest

The retired player released a statement Friday saying the apologies he received from city officials are ‘not enough’

By MARK MORALES

s the New York Police Department released surveillance video Friday of James Blakebeing taken down by an officer, the retired tennis star said city officials’ apologies over the mistaken arrest are “not enough.”

The video shows Mr. Blake, 35 years old, leaning against a pillar outside the Grand Hyatt hotel near Grand Central Terminal when the undercover officer charges toward him, turns him around and wraps his arms around him before spinning him to the pavement.

The officer—identified by a law-enforcement official as James Frascatore, 38, a four-year veteran of the NYPD—is seen kneeling on top of Mr. Blake, who appears not to be resisting arrest, as he cuffs Mr. Blake’s hands behind his back during a botched credit card fraud sting.

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau interviewed Mr. Blake Thursday night, and the investigation is ongoing, said department spokesman Stephen Davis. The officer was placed on modified duty.

Shortly after the video was released, Mr. Blake released a statement reiterating earlier comments that the officer didn’t identify himself, ask his name or “in any way afford me the dignity and respect due every person who walks the streets of this country.”

And while he said he greatly appreciated the apologies from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton, “extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough.”

Mr. Blake, who is biracial, went on to say he hopes the incident will be a “catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve” and asked that the city make “a significant financial commitment” to improve the relationship between law enforcement and citizens in certain neighborhoods.

The mistaken arrest, coming near the conclusion of the U.S. Open, has gained international attention—in part because of Mr. Blake’s celebrity status, but also since it occurred as the nation examines aggressive policing tactics following several high-profile deaths in police custody.

The incident has been an embarrassment for Mr. de Blasio, who campaigned in part on a platform of improving relations between the NYPD and minority communities. Mr. Bratton apologized personally to Mr. Blake on Thursday; the tennis player and the mayor exchanged text messages.

But Friday’s developments found the mayor and police commissioner not only apologizing again for the rough arrest but also defending their efforts to combat police brutality and improve community relations.

In a joint statement, they said the city has invested nearly $29 million to retrain 22,000 uniformed services members in the appropriate use of force and have re-emphasized neighborhood policing efforts.

“This administration will continue to vigorously implement these reforms that build trust and respect between police officers and the people they serve,” the statement said.

The operation that led to Mr. Blake’s arrest began after police fielded a tip from an Internet courier service that had received suspicious orders, NYPD Chief of DetectivesRobert Boyce said Thursday.

Before the operation, the courier service gave the NYPD a photo from a social media account of a person believed to be a suspect in the fraud, Chief Boyce said, and the photo bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Blake. The NYPD didn’t release the photo, which authorities said turned out to be of an innocent person.

In the end, two men who had allegedly been making fraudulent purchases were arrested and arraigned Thursday night. They were charged with grand larceny, identity theft and other offenses, authorities said.

Investigators are probing numerous issues with Mr. Blake’s detainment, including whether the officer used excessive force and whether the officers involved filed the proper paperwork for noting that the arrest occurred but was voided, authorities said.

Since the incident, Officer Frascatore has been placed on desk duty, according to police officials. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents police officers, said in a statement that the officer had “every reason to believe” he was apprehending someone who committed a crime and might flee. “The officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground to prevent that occurrence,” he said.

But Mr. Lynch added it was “truly unfortunate” that the arrest was a result of mistaken identity and that the union regrets “any embarrassment or injury suffered by Mr. Blake.”

The officer has had four complaints filed against him with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent city agency that investigates police misconduct, according to a law-enforcement official. Three of the complaints weren't substantiated, while another was partially substantiated, the official said.

A police union spokesman wouldn’t comment on the complaint record.

—Pervaiz Shallwani contributed to this article.