Standing Outside a Hotel, Using a Cell Phone, and Waiting for a Limo While Black

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Blog | No Comments

Not every resident of or visitor to New York City sustains injuries by being tackled by undercover police and handcuffed. A known criminal, perhaps… whether trading in opium or loose cigarettes.

James BlakeHowever, what if such an individual happened to be a Harvard-educated former World Number 4 professional tennis player whose accomplishments included:

  • Earning millions of dollars[ref]The Richest[/ref] for his prowess in the sport
  • Having endorsements with brands that include Luxilon and Tourna[ref]Tennis Warehouse[/ref]
  • Established a Research Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center[ref]Sloan Kettering[/ref]

We learned on CNN[ref]CNN[/ref] that this was exactly what happened recently. The 35 year old top-10 tennis star James Blake exited the Grand Hyatt Hotel[ref]New York Daily News[/ref] in Midtown Manhattan, awaiting the hired car that was to transport him to a Time Warner Cable event at the U.S. Open.

What followed:

  • Blake exited the hotel and began texting on his phone. He looked up and saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt racing at him.[ref]New York Daily News[/ref]
  • Five white plainclothes police charged straight at him, without any verbal warning. He was knocked down onto the East 42nd Street concrete, sustaining a cut to his left elbow and bruises to his left leg, and presenting reddening of his right eye[ref]New York Daily News[/ref]
  • None of the officers identified themselves. None flashed a badge.
  • One officer barked at Blake, “Don’t say a word!”[ref]New York Daily News[/ref]
  • A retired NYPD officer, who happened to be near the scene, informed the undercover officers on top of Blake, “That is James Blake, the tennis player.”[ref]New York Daily News[/ref]
  • Blake had his hands cuffed behind his back for fifteen minutes[ref]ABC News[/ref] before being released[ref]CNN[/ref].
  • After sustaining injuries inflicted by the officers, Blake was told that he was misidentified as a cellphone thief[ref]New York Post[/ref]. Blake asked the officers to check his identification (Drivers License and U.S. Open Credential.[ref]New York Daily News[/ref]
  • Verifying Blake’s identity, he was released without apology.[ref]BBC[/ref]
  • Reportedly, the two actual criminals were tourists from England who bear no resemblance to Blake[ref]CNN[/ref]
  • Apparently, an attempt by the six officers to cover-up the incident was identified. This, according to the commissioner, represents a breach of NYPD practices[ref]New York Times[/ref].

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton initially defended police, but later admitted the need to apologize[ref]CNN[/ref].

The following video from ABC News gives you the big picture plus an interview with Blake:

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton extended “…a personal apology’’ to Blake:

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