A NYPD officer has been placed on modified assignment following claims by former tennis professional James Blake that he was thrown to the ground and then handcuffed while mistakenly being arrested Wednesday at a Manhattan hotel, police said.
Police said undercover investigators were probing a theft ring that uses fraudulent credit cards to make cellphone purchases use a deliveryman to deliver the packages, and that deliveryman has been helping law enforcement by identifying suspects in the ring.
On Wednesday, he pointed out Blake as a suspect in the ring as Blake was standing outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street, police said.
Blake, 35, was waiting for a car to take him to Flushing Meadows when the undercover officers approached him, slamming him to the ground and cuffing him,The Daily News reports.
Blake told reporters outside the hotel Wednesday evening that the officers said nothing to him as they swarmed him.
“It shouldn’t have happened. It’s something we’ll deal with with the police and we’ll find out what they have to say internally,” he said. “Hopefully there’s video of it and people can see what happened.”
Blake told The Daily News he had just answered a few questions from a magazine writer and was texting when he looked up and saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt charging at him. He assumed the man was perhaps an old acquaintance who wanted to greet him, so he smiled at the man.
In a statement NYPD spokesman Peter Donald said a cooperating witness had misidentified Blake.
“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,” the statement said.
Blake, who is biracial, told the Daily News: “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.”
He says he wants an apology from police.