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article imageJames Blake wants NYPD cop who tackled him to be fired

By Megan Hamilton     Sep 14, 2015 in Crime
Manhattan - When a video surfaced that showed former tennis star James Blake being tackled by a plainclothes New York City Police officer, it prompted apologies from mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton.
Blake was wrongly arrested last week after being misidentified by a witness cooperating with police, the New York Daily News reports.
On Saturday, he told The Associated Press that he wants the cop who allegedly tackled him to be fired.
"I don't think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again," Blake, 35, said a day after surveillance video surfaced, showing the incident outside a hotel in Manhattan, along with details about previous complaints regarding the officer's use of force.
"I don't think it's too much to ask," he said.
Blake ranked as high as No. 4 in the world prior to retiring after the 2013 U.S. Open. The tennis star was misidentified by a cooperating witness as being part of a scam to sell fraudulently purchased merchandise when he was tackled, police say.
The arresting officer, James Frascatore, 38, of Long Island, has been with the NYPD for four years and has allegedly been named in other civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force, the AP reports. He has also been named in four civilian complaints, and that number is above average for NYPD officers, according to complaint data.
The complaints were lodged with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the New York Daily News reports. Only one of the cases, in which he failed to identify himself properly, has been substantiated.
The officer has also been sued four times for allegedly using excessive force.
The police sting in which Blake was mistakenly tangled focused on men suspected of stealing over $3,000 worth of goods ordered online and paid for with stolen American Express Card numbers. Jermaine Grey, 26, and James Short, 27, have been arraigned on alleged charges of grand larceny and identity theft regarding the case.
Blake was waiting for a ride to the U.S. Open event when he was tackled by police, USA Today reports. He suffered a bruised leg and a cut elbow during the incident. He was released by police after they realized they had the wrong man.
"I want him to know what he did was wrong, and that in my opinion he doesn't deserve to ever have a badge and a gun again, because he doesn't know how to handle that responsibility effectively," Blake told the Daily News. "He doesn't deserve to have the same title as officers who are doing good work and are really helping keep the rest of the city safe."
Frascatore has been stripped of his gun and badge and is now the subject of an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation regarding the incident.
"Even if I was the suspect, this isn't the way to treat anyone, no matter what," Blake said in an interview at the Waldorf Astoria.
While he has been talking to his lawyers about taking legal action against the city, he says that for the time being, he is more interested in bringing out the underlying issues that he believes fueled the incident.
"I don't want a lawsuit that says, 'Here's $5 million. Go away. We're not going to talk about this again," he told CNN's Don Lemon. "I want to talk about this, open dialogue ... about real solutions, accountability, about making sure that this isn't going to happen."
After apologizing to Blake, de Blasio and Bratton released a statement Friday and said the incident was being investigated "to determine what contributed to the errors made, who may be held accountable, and what we can learn to prevent these mistakes from being repeated in the future."
The statement also noted that the city has invested almost $29 million to retrain about 22,000 officers and added that new neighborhood policing efforts have dropped the number of civilian complaints against police to the lowest levels in 14 years, per CNN.
Blake says he appreciates the apologies from de Blasio and Bratton, but they aren't enough.
"You wonder how many times its happened without anyone knowing," Blake said.
"I've gotten emails and texts from people that tell me, 'This happened to me. This happened to my friend, my father, my brother,'" he said. "None of them get public apologies. They deserve the same treatment I'm getting."
But according to Patrick Lynch, head of the police union, the officer thought he was arresting a person who had committed a crime.
"The apprehension was made under fluid circumstances where the subject might have fled and the officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground to prevent that occurrence," Lynch said in a statement. "It is truly unfortunate that the arrest was a result of mistaken identity by the complainant in the case and we regret any embarrassment or injury suffered by Mr. Blake as a result."
Although Bratton said the incident "should not have happened," he insisted Blake wasn't detained because of race, CNN reports.
"I don't believe that race was a factor," Bratton said. "This rush to put a race tag on it, I'm sorry, that's not involved in this at all."
The tennis star initially said he believed race was a factor in the rough arrest, the Daily News reports. However, on Saturday, when asked whether he thought white tennis stars such as Andy Roddick or Mardy Fish would have received the same treatment, Blake demurred.
"I don't want to say that at all because I think that muddies the issue at hand," said Blake, who is biracial. "In this incident it was the excessive force that's really the issue, because it was a nonviolent crime."
Blake was released after a retired New York police officer told detectives he was a tennis star.
Frascatore has been placed on desk duty, police say, per CNN.
Placing the officer on desk duty was "premature and unwarranted," Lynch said. "No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts."
Blake, who plans to have a meeting with Bratton and de Blasio, says he wants to see "real change in the form of policies, accountability, making sure all the police force is held accountable for their actions," the Daily News reports.
"That (could) change the whole narrative of what seems to be an us-against-them mentality where there is antagonism between the public and the police," he said.
"We really need to change that. And I think if we hold them accountable, we are going to change that."
"I'm sure this isn't the first time police brutality has happened and I'm sure it's not the last time," Blake said, per the AP. "So I want them to apologize to the people that this happens to that don't have the same voice that I have."
Just what kind of discipline, if any, Frascatore may receive won't happen in the near future, the AP reports.
Pending the results of the internal investigation, he could face departmental charges. Should Frascatore choose to fight the charges, he would do so in a departmental trial where he could face potential punishments that range from loss of vacation days to performance monitoring or other types of disciplinary actions.
The AP left a message at a number listed for Frascatore, but the call was not immediately returned.
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