New York City police commissioner William Bratton has apologized to James Blake, one day after the former tennis professional was handcuffed by officers after a case of mistaken identity.
"I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday's incident," Bratton said in a statement Thursday. "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 [Bill de Blasio] and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to."
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking on cable's NY1, also publicly apologized to Blake, saying of his arrest, "This shouldn't have happened, and he shouldn't have been treated this way."
Earlier Thursday, Bratton had said he attempted to contact Blake in order to apologize but that Blake hadn't responded to messages.
Blake's mistaken arrest happened while police were investigating an identity theft ring at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt New York hotel on Wednesday and mistook him for someone they believed to be involved. He said he was standing outside the hotel waiting to head to the US Open when he looked up from his cellphone and saw an officer charging him.
Blake said the plainclothes officer who body-slammed him Wednesday never identified himself as a police officer and had no badge around his neck or on his belt.
Blake, in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, said he wanted an apology from the New York City police department and a detailed explanation of why he was treated that way by an officer. He added that he was "shaken up" by the incident, but that other than a few bumps and bruises he was fine.
He said he was at first reluctant to discuss the incident, but his wife convinced him that he needed to discuss it with the media.
"She said, 'You know, what if this happened to me?' And immediately I was furious because I thought about what I would be thinking if someone did that to my wife," he said.
"[If] someone tackled her in broad daylight, paraded her around in a busy crowded sidewalk in New York City with handcuffs, with her cuffed behind her back and taking away her dignity, and I just I couldn't accept that and I know that a lot of people have no voice to have any recourse, and I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to be sitting here with you to be able to tell this story and let people know this happens too often."
The officer involved, identified by the New York Daily News as James Frascatore, has been placed on a modified assignment. He allegedly failed to inform his superiors that he threw Blake to the sidewalk and cuffed him, the newspaper reported. Bratton said his department didn't find out about the incident until Blake spoke to the media.
"My concern is that after the release there's department protocols that should have been followed but apparently were not," Bratton said Thursday. "Mr. Blake has made a number of comments to the press. That's how we became aware of the matter." Bratton did not identify the officer.
Frascatore's gun and badge have been removed pending an investigation by internal affairs, which drew the ire of the Police Benevolent Association, the union representing NYPD officers.
"We agree with the Police Commissioner that the first story is never the whole story and believe that placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted," PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement Thursday. "No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts."
Blake said Thursday in the "GMA" interview that "most cops are doing a great job of keeping us safe, but when you police with reckless abandon, you need to be held accountable," adding that those "doing police work the wrong way need to pay for those actions and be shown either the door or whatever they need to do to punish them."
The USTA called the incident "troubling."
"James is the embodiment of a model citizen whose triumphs on and off the court continue to inspire tennis fans and non-fans alike," it said in a statement. "We will continue to offer our support to James in any way we can as this investigation unfolds."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.