The New York Police Department officer who tackled former tennis star James Blake wants to stand trial rather than take a plea deal, which he was seemingly prepared to do.
Officer James Frascatore has received no indication that Blake will not file a lawsuit against him for the September 2015 incident, according to his lawyer.
“My client’s life has been on hold for two years,” said attorney Stephen Worth after a court appearance on Thursday, according to the New York Daily News.
“We wanted to settle this expeditiously so that he could get on with his career, but that hasn’t happened, so we have to move forward.”
The deal would have resulted in Frascatore losing a few vacation days for the incident. But Frascatore will now stand trial in September, according to the New York Times.
Kevin Marino, Blake’s lawyer, said of the news, “The suggestion that Mr. Frascatore has turned that down because of something Mr. Blake did or did not do just does not have any basis in fact,” the Times reported.
Blake came to a settlement with the city last month that created an agency to investigate complaints against police.
“It has been my intention since day one to turn a negative situation into a positive and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal,” Blake said in a statement at the time.
“Transparency and accountability are critical to further strengthening the bonds between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve. The James Blake [Civilian Complaint Review Board] Fellowship is rooted in this administration’s deep commitment to improving those relations,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.“The tireless efforts of committed and qualified fellows will help deliver on the transparency and accountability civilians and police officers deserve by ensuring that more complaints are thoroughly investigated and more cases are closed.”
Last month’s agreement also gave Blake about $175,000 in attorney fees and travel costs, and stated that Blake would not sue the NYPD or Frascatore.
“But the city Law Department has yet to provide the documentation of that agreement, Worth said, even as Frascatore’s appearance in the trial room at Police Headquarters has been adjourned several times. The Law Department wouldn’t answer questions about the letter Thursday,” the Daily News reported.
Blake, who previously ranked as the No. 4 tennis player in the world, was standing outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan waiting for transportation to the U.S. Open when Frascatore approached and tackled him. Frascatore mistook Blake for a suspect in a credit card fraud ring, the NYPD said at the time.
Not long after the incident, the NYPD released thehotel surveillance videoof Blake being taken down by Frascatore. Marino, Blake’s lawyer, said he pressured the NYPD for almost two days, which included preparing Freedom of Information law requests, before it was released.
WNYC previously reportedthat in 2013 Frascatore 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.”
The incident involving Blake drew even more attention to excessive force used by police against Black men. Cases at that time included those of Eric Garnerin Staten Island, N.Y.;Michael Brownin Ferguson, Mo.;Tamir Ricein Cleveland, Ohio;Walter Scottin North Charleston, S.C.;Freddie Grayin Baltimore, Md.; andSamuel DuBosein Cincinnati, Ohio.
Blake indicated after the incident that he wanted to use the incident to bring awareness to issues of police brutality against civilians.
At the time he said that he did not think an apology from the city and city officials was enough. He suggested that other victims of police brutality, those who do not have the same public persona as Blake, deserve apologies.
“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,” he said.