Without warning, a plainclothes New York City police officer threw a Black man to the ground and handcuffed him. It turned out that the cop manhandled the wrong suspect, and walked away without even the courtesy of an apology. That kind of treatment is commonplace. What made this case different is that it happened to a celebrity athlete.
The victim, retired professional tennis star James Blake, testified at an internal police disciplinary hearing on Tuesday against the officer who is accused of using excessive force on him, ABC News reports.
“It shouldn’t happen to me. It shouldn’t happen to anyone. There needs to be accountability for everybody,” Blake stated at the hearing, according to the Associated Press.
Blake took it a step further outside the hearing, saying that Officer James Frascatore should be fired and taken off the streets.
Blake told the NYPD administrative judge that Frascatore failed to identify himself before using an aggressive takedown maneuver outside a Manhattan hotel in 2015, which was captured on security video.
The tennis star said he remained handcuffed for about 10 minutes before the cops realized they apprehended the wrong person.
ABC reported that Frascatore, who is currently on desk duty, turned down a deal from police officials that would have resulted in a slap on the wrist. He chose instead to face the disciplinary court, which could recommend his termination from the police force.
Frascatore’s attorney argued in his opening statement that it was a case of mistaken identity, and the officer used a routine takedown move that’s never questions. The difference, he maintains, is that Blake is a celebrity.
Indeed, New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, and then Police Commissioner William Bratton, issued “swift apologies to Blake,” the New York Times reported. The officers failed to report the mistaken arrest, which would have likely been swept under the rug if the victim was not a celebrity.
“It should not matter that I’m a tennis star … to be treated respectfully and not have my rights taken away from me from law enforcement,” Blake has said, according to ABC.