Tina Fineberg / AP Photo

NYPD watchdog substantiates ex–tennis star’s force complaint

The two officers involved in James Blake’s arrest now face internal department discipline

Former pro tennis player James Blake says New York City’s police watchdog has substantiated his complaint against NYPD officers involved in tackling and mistakenly arresting him.

He filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB ) against Officers James Frascatore and Daniel Herzog, alleging they used excessive force and abused their power when they tackled him outside a Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9.

Blake, whose father is black and mother is white, was surrounded by six plainclothes officers while waiting for a car to take him to the U.S. Open tennis tournament. One of the officers slammed him to the ground before handcuffing him.

The day after the incident, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton apologized to Blake and said he was concerned over the level of force used in the arrest. Blake was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a fraud ring. The incident 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.

The board substantiated the use of excessive force against Frascatore and recommended departmental charges that could lead to suspension or dismissal, according to The New York Times. He will now face an internal departmental trial.

The board found that Herzog, a plainclothes detective who authorized Blake’s arrest, abused his authority and recommended command discipline, which could mean the loss of up to five vacation days, the Times reported.

On Wednesday, Blake issued a statement thanking the CCRB for its "quick and thorough review," adding, "I have complete respect for the principle of due process and appreciate the efforts of the CCRB to advance this investigation."

The police union hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Blake retired from the pro tennis circuit after the 2013 U.S. Open.

Al Jazeera with wire services

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