Tennis star James Blake was tackled to the ground and handcuffed by five police officers in New York City Wednesday, in a case of misidentification and excessive police force.
The incident occurred outside of Blake's midtown hotel as he was heading to the U.S. Open, he told the New York Daily News. The officers, who were all white, incorrectly identified the athlete as a suspect in an identity theft ring that was operating in the area.
"It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," Blake said. He added that he while can't really say the scene was a case of racial profiling, it is "as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is. 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."
Blake had been texting when he looked up to find a man in shorts and a T-shirt running towards him. The plainclothes officer threw him down on the sidewalk, yelled at him to roll over on his face and said "don't say a word." In the course of the action, Blake suffered a cut to his left elbow as well as bruises to his left leg.
"I didn't feel very safe," he said, despite an officer telling him that he was.
After spending 15 minutes in handcuffs one of the officers realized that they had the wrong man and apologized. The officer who first tackled and cuffed him didn't say anything.
Blake said that he originally didn't want to publicly discuss the incident, but realized that he felt he had an obligation to shed light on another example of excessive police force.
"I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice," Blake said. "But what about someone who doesn't have those resources and doesn't have a voice? The real problem is that I was tackled for no reason and that happens to a lot of people who don't have a media outlet to voice that to."
Blake added that he would like an apology from the NYPD for the use of force and to know that the officers will deal with repercussions, "so they know it's not okay to go out there and do this again tomorrow."