Former tennis pro James Blake is using his platform to speak out on the dire need for police reform in New York City, just weeks after he was mistaken for a suspect in a credit card fraud scheme and tackled and detained outside of a Manhattan hotel.
Surveillance video from the Sept. 9 incident shows Blake standing outside of a midtown building when he is suddenly approached by NYPD officer James Frascatore. Frascatore threw Blake on the ground, handcuffed him and held him for 10 minutes until he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The morning after the incident, Blake appeared on Good Morning America, where he demanded an apology and maintained that the officer approached him aggressively and out of the blue. Later that day, both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly apologized to Blake, though they denied that the arrest was racially motivated. Frascatore has since been demoted to desk duty.
On Monday, Blake sat down with de Blasio and Bratton to discuss how the city plans to put an end to these interactions.
“[Blake] has not made [this incident] about him,” de Blasio said during an interview with CNN. “He’s talked about where we need to go as a society to a better place, and I admire him for that.”
After de Blasio took office, he instituted a retraining program for all NYPD officers. Officials are in the process of “cycling through” the city’s 36,000 officers, and de Blasio said that he hoped that the new training would diminish the frequency of violent interactions. Though yesterday’s meeting did not result in any confirmed policy changes nor further punishment for Frascatore, who has a history of using excessive force, Blake is still hopeful that the city will continue to make positive strides.
“[I’m encouraged by] the fact that [de Blasio] can look me in the eye and tell me he is on our side,” Blake said to the New York Times, “and that he is looking to make a long-lasting impact.”