Former Tennis Star James Blake Tackled to Ground by Cops, Mistaken for Alleged Thief
Former tennis star James Blake was tackled to the ground and handcuffed after New York police officers mistook him for an alleged thief.
Blake, who is African-American, and was once ranked No. 4 in the world, had just finished a tennis magazine interview at The Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday when he saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt charging at him, reported the New York Daily News.
"It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," said Blake.
"Maybe I'm naïve, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or something who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy," he said.
Blake said the cop, who he said wasn’t wearing a badge, threw him down on the sidewalk, yelled at him to roll over on his face and said, "Don't say a word."
He said he told the officer, "I'm going to do whatever you say. I'm going to cooperate. But do you mind if I ask what this is all about?"
An officer said, "We'll tell you. You are in safe hands."
Blake said, "I didn't feel very safe."
He said five other cops surrounded him. He said he was told he had been identified by two people as someone involved in an identity-theft ring.
He was asked if he thought he was racially profiled. "I don't know if it's as simple as that. To me it's as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is.
“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,” he said.
Blake said one of the officers finally realized they had the wrong person and apologized. The first cop who tackled and handcuffed him didn’t say a word.
He wants an apology from the NYPD, and hopes there will be repercussions for the cops involved "so they know it's not okay to go out there and do this again tomorrow."
In a statement released to INSIDE EDITION, the NYPD said: “Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness.
"Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately. In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he'd been trying to reach the tennis ace by phone to apologize but Blake has not yet replied. Bratton also said his department wants Blake to speak to its Internal Affairs division.