Before heading to the US Open, former tennis great James Blake was slammed and arrested outside his Manhattan hotel by five white New York Police Department officers.
"It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," he told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. The 35-year-old African-American tennis star admit that cops could have targeted him for his race, but he stressed that the use of force was completely unnecessary.
"I don't know if it's as simple as [a race issue.] To me it's as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is. 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."
Blake told the Daily News that he was first approached by one man in plain clothes, whom he initially thought was a fan or a friend. He was then thrown to the ground as four more officers in plain clothes approached him. Blake plead to the cops by saying that he would cooperate.
"You'd think they could say, 'Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something.' I was just standing there. I wasn't running. It's not even close [to being okay]. It's blatantly unnecessary. You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn't okay, but it seems that there's no stopping it."
The officers apparently mistook Blake for a suspect in an identity theft ring. The Harvard University alum is now requesting that the officers are brought to justice, but questioned how someone without his platform would fare against the NYPD.
“I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice. But what about someone who doesn’t have those resources and doesn’t have a voice?”
After 15 minutes of being detained, Blake was identified and apologised to by one officer. However, the cop who tackled Blake did not offer an apology.
The NYPD later offered the following statement shortly after the news of Blake's arrest broke out.
“Today, James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness."
"Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately. In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate."Reuse content