By Sheryl Estrada
A screen shot from the hotel surveillance video of James Blake being arrested by Police Officer James Frascatore. Via YouTube.
After being body-slammed by New York Police Department officer James Frascatore in broad daylight without just cause, former tennis star James Blake wants him fired.
“I don’t think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again,” Blake said on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Frascatore was undercover when he slammed 35-year-old Blake to the ground outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan while he waited for transportation to the U.S. Open. The NYPD said Blake was misidentified as a suspect in a fraudulent credit card ring. But Blake believes that is no excuse for the excessive force. Frascatore is on desk duty while an internal investigation takes place.
On Friday, the NYPD released the hotel surveillance video of Blake being taken down by Frascatore. Blake’s lawyer, Kevin Marino, said he pressured the NYPD for almost two days, which included preparing Freedom of Information law requests, before it was released.
Blake is leaving open the option for a lawsuit but realizes he can be a catalyst for reform in the police department, including advocating for cops to wear body cameras and stronger punishments for officers who violate department policy.
Blake also doesn’t believe apologies he received from New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio are enough. He said apologies should also be given to other victims of NYPD brutality.
“I think there needs to be a public apology to all of them, all of those people who don’t have the same stature I have,” said Blake, who ranked as high as No. 4 in the world.
That would be a lot of apologies. The NYPD has a long and tainted history of racial profiling and racially charged incidents, including the death of Eric Garner. Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly caused much outrage during his tenure for his militant approach, from defending his department’s use ofthe now defunct stop and frisk to the killings of unarmed Black menSean Bell,Tamon RobinsonandRamarley Grahamunder his watch.
It also seems the NYPD has no problem keeping cops on payroll who have a history of violating citizens. In December, as part of a series of police misconduct,WNYC reportedthat in 2013 Frascatore, who has been with the NYPD for four years, was named in fivecivilian complaintsduring one seven-month period. According to WNYC, “That’s more complaints than 90 percent of active officers have received in their entire careers.”
Warren Diggs, a 39-year-old Black man, and his girlfriend Nafeesah Hinesfiled complaints against several NYPD officers with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in April 2013. Diggs was stopped in January 2013 while riding his bike on the sidewalk. Frascatore was one of the cops who wrestled him to the ground in his own driveway and arrested him for marijuana possession and resisting arrest. Diggs said he was “sadistically and maliciously” beaten by the police officers.
He also said Frascatore was the first cop to punch him. All criminal charges against the couple were ultimately dismissed as Hines provided an audio recording of the incident from her cell phone.
“This guy needed to go a long time ago,” Diggs said of Frascatore in an interview. “He likes putting his hands on people. Hopefully, [Blake’s] in a better position to do something about it so that he won’t be able to get away with it anymore.”
Diggs’ abusive encounter with Frascatore echoes what Blake experienced.
“I was standing there, just waiting, minding my own business,” Blake said onGood Morning Americaon Thursday. “I saw someone coming from the street running directly at me. He picked me up and body slammed me. He put me on the ground, told me to turn over and shut my mouth and put the cuffs on me.”
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said on Friday Blake’s arrest 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.”
In January, Lynch was at the center of a rift between the police unions and Mayor Bill de Blasio following de Blasio’s comments on race and police relations. This caused an admitted NYPD work slowdown. Lynch was re-elected to his position in June, winning his fifth fourth-year term.