Mon, Sep 14, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Blake says NYPD should fire cop who tackled him

AP, NEW YORK

James Blake, former tennis star

Photo: AP

Former tennis star James Blake, whose caught-on-camera takedown by a plainclothes New York City police officer prompted apologies from the mayor and police commissioner, on Saturday said that the officer who wrongly arrested him should 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 of the arrest outside a Manhattan hotel — and details about previous complaints over the officer’s use of force — became public.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask,” he said.

Blake, who was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open, was misidentified by a cooperating witness as being part of a scheme to sell fraudulently purchased merchandise when he was tackled, police have said.

The arresting officer, James Frascatore, who has been with the New York Police Department (NYPD) for four years, has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force. He has also been the subject of four civilian complaints — an above-average number for NYPD officers, according to complaint data.

“I think that that kind of police officer tarnishes the badge, which I have the utmost respect for and I believe that the majority of police officers do great work and they’re heroes,” Blake said. “So this person doesn’t ever belong in the same sentence with the heroes that are doing the right kind of police work and keeping the public safe.”

A message left at a number listed for Frascatore, 38, was not immediately returned.

Officials have said he was exonerated of one civilian complaint, a second was unsubstantiated and he was sanctioned for not identifying himself in a third. The status of the fourth complaint was unclear.

A spokesman for his union on Saturday did not return a message seeking comment.

Frascatore has been placed on desk duty while internal affairs detectives continue their investigation. At issue is not only Blake’s takedown, but whether the use-of-force was not properly reported up the chain of command — leaving police commanders to learn of it only after Blake spoke to the media.

Blake on Saturday said that he was appreciative of apologies from Bratton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as their invitations to discuss further policing issues, including the use of body cameras, training and ways to ensure more accountability, but he also said he hoped others who have been wrongly arrested or mistreated by officers would receive the same treatment.

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