Archived: NYPD Officer Returns Serve and Sues Former Tennis Star James Blake

Two years ago, former tennis star James Blake was mistaken for a suspect in an NYPD fraud investigation and tackled and handcuffed by an NYPD plainclothes officer. Now, after the release of Blake’s book “Ways of Grace,” where he speaks openly about the incident, the officer, James Frascatore, is defending himself with a vengeance, claiming Blake portrayed him as “a racist and a goon.”

According to Blake’s account of the 2015 incident, Frascatore grabbed and threw him to the ground, put a knee in his back and handcuffed him. Surveillance video shows the officer tackle Blake and handcuff him but does not show what happens afterwards. Frascatore claims that, 10 to 15 minutes later, the officers realized their mistake and “personally apologized to Blake and explained the mistaken identification” and that the two men later “shook hands and patted each other on the back.” The plaintiff also claims that the media characterization is untrue and that “this public perception has not only led to his family fleeing their home in fear as a result of public threats to their safety, it has ruined a good man’s career, name and reputation.”

Along with Blake, Frascatore is also lashing out at the NYPD and the city of New York itself. In this lawsuit, Frascatore claims that he was thrown under the bus and demonized as a racist for what he claims was an honest mistake. One of the organizations Frascatore is targeting is the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, the body investigating his case. According to the review board prosecutor Johnathan Fogel, “[Frascatore] responded with brutal unprovoked violence. He used no words or warning, slamming him to the ground like a linebacker in NFL football.”

Frascatore also claims that past disciplinary records of his had been leaked illegally to media outlets. Among the records Frascatore is referring to is an investigation launched by WNYC radio station claiming that the officer had five complaints filed against him during a seven-month period two years prior to this incident. At the time of the incident, Frascatore also had two federal lawsuits pending, which included the claims of two men who say they were beaten, pepper sprayed and falsely arrested.

Frascatore filed a federal defamation lawsuit on Oct. 3; at this time, however, no date has been set for a trial.

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