Well THAT’S not good at all.
On Wednesday former tennis player James Blake was waiting outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in NYC for his car to bring him to the US Open, when he was wrongfully cuffed by cops.
The African American athlete says a white officer allegedly slammed him to the ground and slapped handcuffs on his wrists, all because he was mistakenly identified. He says:
“It was definitely scary and definitely crazy.”
We bet. Getting violently thrown on the sidewalk — while doing nothing other than wait for your ride to pick you up — sounds pretty scary. Reports say he even bruised his leg and cut his elbow in the commotion!
At first he wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, because the cop in question was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and didn’t have his badge visible:
“Maybe I’m na├â┬»ve, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or something who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy.”
While he was on the ground, four other officers — all of them white — came over and surrounded him. But the tennis star says he’s unsure if racial profiling was in play here:
“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.”
We completely agree!
The mix-up mayhem all started when police arrested a suspect connected with fraud. Officials say the man was involved in a ring that bought cell phones with fraudulent cards.
While authorities were talking to the suspect, he pointed to two other people who were supposedly involved in the scam, and mistakenly singled out James.
The cops held the 35-year-old for 15 minutes outside the hotel before they realized they made a huge mistake. They all apologized to the athlete, except for the officer who initially tackled him. He never said a word.
James understandably didn’t want to talk about the traumatic turn of events publicly, but says he felt the need to show that police brutality is still a serious issue:
“I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice. But what about someone who doesn’t have those resources and doesn’t have a voice? The real problem is that I was tackled for no reason and that happens to a lot of people who don’t have a media outlet to voice that to.”
The NYPD issued a statement about the confusion, saying:
“Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness. Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately. In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate.”
James also hopes to receive an apology from the department, and would like for the authorities involved to be appropriately reprimanded for their use of excessive force.
We’re seriously disgusted by the whole thing, and we hope those cops face consequences for their actions.
[Image via Ivan Nikolov/WENN.]