Black Tennis Star: NYPD Slammed Me to the Ground
James Blake believes race was a factor
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2015 1:47 AM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2015 3:30 AM CDT
In this May 26, 2013, photo, James Blake grimaces after missing a return against Serbia's Viktor Troicki at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)
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(Newser) – Former tennis star James Blake says he was slammed to the ground by NYPD officers outside a Manhattan hotel in a case of mistaken identity that he suspects would have turned out differently if he looked like Roger Federer. Blake, who is black, says he was tackled and handcuffed outside the Grand Hyatt by five white plainclothes officers who didn't identify themselves. "It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," the former world No. 4 tells the New York Daily News. "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." He says he was held for about 15 minutes and suffered a cut to his elbow and bruises to his leg.

"You'd think they could say, 'Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something," says Blake. Police say they mistakenly thought the 35-year-old was a suspect in a phone theft case and he was released after he was properly identified, the BBC reports. Blake says he's discussing the incident to highlight excessive use of force, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton tells NY1 he agrees that what happened to Blake is "very disturbing" and is something that "shouldn't have happened." He says his Internal Affairs department is investigating, and the NYPD adds that one officer was placed on modified assignment after surveillance video was reviewed.