*New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday he was “concerned” over the level of force used during the wrongful arrest of retired tennis star James Blake, who was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring.
Bratton said he’d been trying to reach Blake by phone to apologize but Blake hadn’t responded to messages. He also said his department wants Blake to speak to its Internal Affairs division.
Blake, who is African American, was surrounded by six plainclothes officers outside a hotel in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday while waiting for a car to take him to the U.S. Open. One of the cops slammed him to the ground before handcuffing him.
Bratton said the officer who tackled Blake has been put on desk duty while the department reviewed the incident.
“I have concerns about the takedown,” said Bratton, adding he had seen a video of the arrest.
“The concern we had: was the force used appropriate, and the initial review – we believe it may not have been,” added Bratton.
Bratton said he was also concerned that no report had been made of Blake’s arrest and detention, which became public after the former player reported it to the New York Daily News.
Blake told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he decided to go public with the incident after discussing it with his wife and imagining how he would have felt if she had been treated in that way.
“I was furious because I thought about what I would be thinking if someone did that to my wife, if someone tackled her in broad daylight, paraded her around in a busy, crowded sidewalk in New York City with handcuffs,” Blake said.
Blake added that he had cooperated throughout the incident with the officers, who did not immediately identify themselves as cops.
“The first words out of my mouth were, ‘I’m going to 100 percent cooperate. I don’t want any incident or whatever,’ just out of reaction from what I’ve seen in the media,'” said Blake.
Watch Blake’s “GMA” interview below:
Bratton said Blake had been mistakenly identified as a suspect by a witness, adding he did not believe race influenced how he was treated by white officers.
“This rush to put a race tag on it, I’m sorry, that’s not involved in this incident at all,” Bratton told reporters. “That doesn’t denote there’s a racial angle to this at all.”
The NYPD last year promised to revamp how it trained officers after 43-year-old Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by officers who were trying to arrest him for suspected illegal cigarette sales on Staten Island in July 2014.
Garner’s death was one of a string of cases in the past year involving the deaths of black men in confrontations with police – including in Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, Missouri – that sparked a national debate over race and justice.