N.Y. police chief apologizes to arrested ex-tennis star

Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:42pm EDT
 
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By Scott Malone

(Reuters) - New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton apologized on Thursday to former U.S. tennis star James Blake, who was arrested after being wrongly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring and said he was concerned over how much force was used.

Blake, who is black, was surrounded by six plainclothes officers outside a Midtown Manhattan hotel on Wednesday while waiting for a car to take him to the U.S. Tennis Open. One of the officers slammed the 35-year-old man to the ground before handcuffing him.

The incident involving a well-known athlete revived questions over excessive police force that reverberated around the country after a series of police killings of unarmed black men that sparked sometimes violent protests.

"I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday's incident," Bratton said in a statement. "Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues."

Bratton earlier told reporters the officer who tackled Blake had 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, who was appointed by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio at a time when he was trying to improve relations between police and minority residents of the city.

Police said Blake, at one time ranked fourth in the world, had been mistakenly identified by a cooperating witness as a suspect in a fraud ring.   Continued...

 
James Blake of the U.S. reacts after losing to Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York in this August 28, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton