NEW YORK – Former tennis pro James Blake, who was thrown to the ground by a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel and mistakenly arrested, emerged from a meeting with the mayor and police commissioner on Monday saying they were on the same page about the need for lasting change.
“We’re not looking for a quick lawsuit,” Blake said after a meeting he described as very productive. “We’re not looking for anything that’s going to be a quick and easy solution. We’re looking for a lasting, positive impact on the city and on the police force.”
Blake said the big theme of the meeting with Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner William Bratton was accountability.
“(De Blasio) spoke very clearly in there about not just making short-term changes, not making a change that’s going to make a difference today that’s going to be gone tomorrow but having an impact that’s going to affect even generations,” Blake said.
Blake, who had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world before retiring from tennis after the 2013 U.S. Open, was misidentified by a cooperating witness as being part of a scheme to sell fraudulently purchased merchandise before he was tackled and handcuffed on Sept. 9, police said. He was mistaken for a crime suspect who looks just like him, they said.
The arresting officer, James Frascatore, was placed on desk duty. He has been with the New York Police Department for four years and has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force. He also has been the subject of four civilian complaints, an above-average number for an NYPD officer, according to complaint data.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents officers, said Frascatore did a professional job of bringing Blake to the ground.
Blake’s arrest was caught on a surveillance camera and prompted apologies from de Blasio and Bratton.
Blake had said the officer should be fired, but following the meeting he said he understands due process, “the fact that he has rights in the court.”
“I’m willing to respect that, and I’ll be aware how the trial, how the process takes place,” Blake said.
The mayor also described Monday’s meeting as productive.
“We pledged a fair and expeditious investigation into his case and to find further common ground as we continue the work of reform,” de Blasio said in a statement.