Former tennis pro and Fairfield native James Blake was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by police in New York City, after a witness mistook him as a suspect in an ongoing fraud investigation.
Blake reached three grand-slam quarterfinals in his professional days and was once the world’s fourth ranked tennis player.
While he won’t go as far as saying he was arrested because of his race, he said he does believe it was unnecessary police force.
"It shouldn't have happened and it's something that we'll deal with, with the police,” Blake said. "Hopefully we'll find out what they have to say internally. Hopefully there's video of it and people can see what happened."
Blake said an officer in street clothes slammed him to the sidewalk and told him to lay face down.
New York police said a witness wrongly identified Blake as a suspect in an ongoing fraud investigation.
"It is a remarkable likeness. They look like twins,” said New York Police Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton held a news conference on Thursday to address the incident.
"My apologies for the incident that he found himself involved in,” Bratton said.
Blake was finally let go after a retired New York officer working security at a hotel told police they had the wrong guy.
The 35-year-old retired tennis star said he suffered cuts and a bruised leg.
Bratton said he hopes to apologize to Blake personally.
In a statement, Bratton said “I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident. Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues. Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”
One of the officers involved in the incident has been placed on a modified assignment after police reviewed surveillance tapes.
Blake’s last professional tennis tournament was the 2013 US Open.
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