Police commish intends to apologize to James Blake for mistaken arrest

NY police commish extends apology to James Blake (0:51)

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton speaks to the media about wishing to meet with tennis pro James Blake, who was tackled and handcuffed by New York City police officers on Wednesday. (0:51)

NEW YORK -- New York City's police commissioner says he's been trying to apologize to former tennis professional James Blake, who was handcuffed by an officer after a case of mistaken identity.

But Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday that Blake hasn't responded to messages. He said his department wants Blake to speak to its internal affairs division.

Bratton said he wants to extend his apologies, adding that Mayor Bill de Blasio also wants to apologize.

The officer involved has been placed on a modified assignment. His gun and badge have been removed pending an investigation by internal affairs, which drew the wire 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."

Earlier Thursday, Blake said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that he had yet to hear from the police department after he was thrown to the ground and then handcuffed while mistakenly being arrested Wednesday at a hotel.

The former tennis professional said in the interview that he was "shaken up" by Wednesday's incident, but 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.

"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."
James Blake, on his wife persuading him to discuss the incident

"[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."

Blake's mistaken arrest happened while police were investigating an identity theft ring at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt New York hotel and mistook him for someone they believed to be involved. He said he was standing outside the hotel on Wednesday waiting to head to the US Open when he looked up from his cellphone and saw an officer charging him.

Bratton had earlier told CNN that the man police were searching for looked like "the twin brother of Mr. Blake.''

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 said he kept a smile during the incident in an attempt to defuse the situation and made it clear that he would "100 percent cooperate." He was held for about 15 minutes before officers agreed to check his identification, and he was released.

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."