A big mistake. Former tennis pro James Blake was tackled onto a Manhattan sidewalk and handcuffed by police on Wednesday, Sept. 9, when he got caught up in a case of mistaken identity, with cops believing he was part of an identity theft crime ring.
The former world No. 4 tennis player suffered a cut to his elbow and bruises to his leg as five plain-clothed police officers brought him to the ground outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City, and kept him there for 15 minutes, the New York Daily News was the first to report.
"It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," Blake told the outlet. "In my mind there's probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody."
Harvard educated Blake, 35, says none of the plain-clothed cops identified themselves to him as he was thrown to the ground en route to make a corporate appearance for Time Warner Cable at the US Open.
"You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something,'" Blake continued. "I was just standing there. I wasn’t running."
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton echoed Blake's concern later on Wednesday. "It's very disturbing, the idea that he claims he was rushed by a person in a pair of t-shirt and shorts who pushed him to the ground and he was assisted by four others who identified themselves, ultimately, as police officers, and that he suffered an injury during that," Bratton told NY1. "Just the nature of what he described is not what we do. I will not tolerate any type of excessive use of force on the part of my police, but as always, we have that saying, the first story is never the last story."
The former tennis great said he felt obliged to talk out about the experience on behalf of others who suffer similar situations.
"I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice," he said. "But what about someone who doesn't have those resources and doesn’t have a voice? The real problem is that I was tackled for no reason and that happens to a lot of people who don’t have a media outlet to voice that to," he continued, adding he would like an apology from the police department and for the officers involved to face repercussions for their extreme actions.
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