A messy case of mistaken identity has the NYPD in hot water again.
Retired tennis star James Blake was on his way to the U.S. Open on Wednesday to fulfill a corporate appearance for Time Warner Cable, but he fell victim to an extreme case of mistaken identity. Blake was slammed to a New York City sidewalk and handcuffed by a white New York Police Department cop. According to the New York Daily News, Blake suffered a cut to his left elbow and bruises to his left leg from five plainclothes cops holding him down for 15 minutes outside of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan.
“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” Blake told the Daily News. “In my mind there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”
Blake, who's biracial, added that none of the white cops identified themselves, including the officer who threw him to the concrete ground.
“'Don’t say a word,'” Blake said the officer, who wasn't wearing a badge, told him.
“'I’m going to do whatever you say,'” Blake said he told the cop. “'I’m going to cooperate. But do you mind if I ask what this is all about?'”
Blake said the arresting officers only stopped after an NYPD retiree, who witnessed the incident, told police "that is James Blake, the tennis player."
Only then did police realize that they misidentified Blake as a culprit in an ongoing credit card fraud investigation. But even still, the NYPD hasn't apologized to the former tennis star.
“You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something.' I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close [to being OK]. It’s blatantly unnecessary. You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn’t OK, but it seems that there’s no stopping it," Blake said. “I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice. But what about someone who doesn't have those resources and doesn’t have a voice?”
NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton told ESPN that he has been trying to apologize to the former tennis star, but that Blake hasn't responded to his messages. He added that he'd like Blake to speak to the NYPD internal affairs division and that the officer involved has been placed on modified assignment with his gun and badge revoked, pending an investigation.
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(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)