The police officer who mistakenly tackled and arrested James Blake in 2015 has filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against the former tennis player.
Officer James Frascatore also included the police department and the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the watchdog group prosecuting his case, in the lawsuit. He is seeking damages of $75,000.
Blake described the 2015 incident in his book Ways of Grace, in which Frascatore says he was wrongly painted as an “out of control and corrupt officer.” In video that later surfaced, Frascatore can be seen tackling Blake outside a Manhattan hotel. Police believed he was a suspect in a credit card fraud ring.
In the lawsuit, Frascatore says the recriminations and pushback from the mistaken arrest were immediate: he was initially suspended but then placed on desk duty. He also says that his disciplinary record, showing previous excessive force complaints, was released to the media on purpose, and Blake continued to paint him as a violent officer in media interviews.
“Blake’s defamatory statements about Officer Frascatore were circulated to millions of readers and viewers in print, online, and through mobile and social media,” the lawsuit says.
He also claims that he is a victim of racial discrimination because he was cast as a racist. Blake is mixed race and Frascatore is white.
“Plaintiff has been cast as a racist and a goon,” the lawsuit says. “Though this characterization could not be farther from the truth, this public perception has not only led to his family fleeing their home in fear as a result of public threats to their safety, it has ruined a good man’s career, name and reputation.”
Kevin Marino, Blake’s lawyer, responded by saying his client would defend himself “with the same grace and dignity that has characterized his response to the attack on his person.”