Tennis Star James Blake Wrongfully Detained By NYPD Before U.S. Open Appearance
Tennis icon James Blake says that he was slammed to the ground and handcuffed after being approached by five plainclothes NYPD officers outside of his hotel in midtown Manhattan Wednesday.
According to the New York Daily News, the officers—who were all white—mistook the 35-year-old for a suspect in an identity theft ring that was operating in the area. Blake was waiting outside of the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd St. for a car to pick him up and to take him to Queens where he was making corporate appearances at the U.S. Open on behalf of Time-Warner Cable.
“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy,” said Blake, who sustained a cut on his left elbow and bruises on his left leg.
When asked if he believes race played a role in the incident, the athlete, who once ranked No. 4 in the world, had this to say:
“I don’t know if it’s as simple as that. 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.”
Just before the incident, Blake shared that he had just finished up answering questions for a writer from a tennis publication and was sending a text message when he looked up and saw a man in shorts charging at 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. 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 adds that he was initially under the impression that the man was just someone he went to high school with, but the officer—who was not wearing a badge—picked him up and slammed him to the ground before yelling at him to roll over on his face.
“Don’t say a word,” he recalled the officer saying to him.
“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?” Blake responded.
“We’ll tell you. You are in safe hands,” the New York Native recalled the cop telling him.
“I didn’t feel very safe,” said Blake.
The other four officers eventually approached and surrounded him as well. After being handcuffed for approximately 15 minutes, cops realized that he wasn’t the person they were looking for and released him. The NYPD has since released a statement regarding the incident.