Tennis star James Blake was tackled by the NYPD in a case of mistaken identity

James Blake NYPD

James Blake is a Harvard-educated former tennis professional who once ranked No. 4 in the world. He is now in New York City for the US Open, but ran into unwarranted trouble outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday when white NYPD officers mistook him for a suspect in a credit card fraud case — and tackled him to the ground without warning.

Speaking to The New York Daily News, James said he was leaving the hotel for a corporate appearance when a police officer in shorts and a t-shirt started rushing toward him.

“Maybe I’m naïve, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or someone who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy,” James said. Rather than smile back, the officer picked him up, threw him down on the pavement and told him to roll onto his stomach. James said he kept his composure and said, “I’m going to do whatever you say. I’m going to cooperate. But do you mind if I ask what this is all about?” One officer said they would tell him shortly, but James wasn’t released for another 15 minutes when another cop recognized him.

“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 be 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,” he said, explaining he suffered a cut to his elbow and bruises to his legs while officers forcefully held him. “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.”

After video footage of the incident was reviewed, one officer was placed on modified duty. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said an internal affairs investigation is ongoing.

“The nature of what he described is not what we do, not what we’re supposed to do,” Commissioner Bratton said on NY1 on Wednesday. “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.”

A man standing near James was arrested in connection to a credit card scam.

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