NEW YORK – Police Commissioner Bratton apologized to former tennis star James Blake after an officer tackled and cuffed him in front of a midtown hotel in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
Bratton, who said both he and the mayor had been trying to contact Blake, said in a statement:
“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident. Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues. Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”
Bratton said he has "concerns about the takedown of Mr. Blake," but maintained that race was not a factor.
Blake, who is African-American, was on his way to the U.S. Open in Queens Wednesday when he was tackled and cuffed outside the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd by a group of white, plainclothes police officers.
The NYPD said officers tackled and detained Blake believing he was a suspect involved in an ongoing investigation regarding fraudulently purchased cell phones.
Bratton called the resemblance between the suspect and Blake "remarkable" and said "they could have been twin brothers.
Blake said he never received from the officers who threw him to the ground.
Speaking to reporters outside his hotel late Wednesday, Blake said, “It shouldn’t have happened and I just think it’s something that we’ll deal with, with the police and find out what they have to say internally.”
One of the officers involved was placed on modified assignment after investigators viewed surveillance video of the incident at the hotel, the NYPD said in a statement to the press Thursday.
That officer has been with the police force for about four years, Bratton said Thursday.
Thursday afternoon, PBA president Patrick J. Lynch issued the following statement about the officer's modified assignment:
“We agree with the Police Commissioner that the first story is never the whole story and believe that placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted. No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts.”