NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he has apologized to former professional tennis player James Blake, who said he was roughed up by cops in a case of mistaken identity. Plainclothes NYPD officers mistakenly detained Blake outside his Midtown Manhattan hotel Wednesday, police said. The officers apparently mistook the former No. 4 player in the world for a suspect that bought cell phones using a fraudulent credit card. Police said a cooperating witnesses pointed him out.
Bratton said in a statement that he spoke to Blake Thursday afternoon and "personally apologized" for the incident. "Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues," Bratton said. "Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to."
Blake said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, including police. He said he was standing outside Manhattan's Grand Hyatt New York hotel waiting to head to the U.S. Open when he saw an officer charging him. He said the cop body-slammed and handcuffed him.
Blake said the officer never identified himself as a cop and wasn't wearing a visible police shield.
The officer has been stripped of his gun and badge while the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau investigates.
Bratton told CNN the man police were seeking looked like "the twin brother of Mr. Blake."
"Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately," the NYPD said in a statement Wednesday. "In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate.
Blake, 35, told the Daily News that one cop actually slammed him to the ground, ordered him to roll over, and then handcuffed him as other cops then gathered around. Blake reportedly told the cops to look at his ID and his U.S. Open credential, which they did. A retired cop working security at the hotel told the officers who Blake is. Within a few minutes, they released him. Blake said he suffered cuts and bruises.
The United States Tennis Association, which hosts the U.S. Open, issued a statement Thursday.
"The USTA is deeply concerned about this troubling incident. James is the embodiment of a model citizen whose triumphs on and off the court continue to inspire tennis fans and non-fans alike," the statement said. "We will continue to offer our support to James in any way we can as this investigation unfolds."
Although he no longer plays on the pro tour, Blake is in New York to make appearances at the U.S. Open and related events. He said he was waiting outside the Grand Hyatt for a car to take him to Flushing Meadows when the cop tackled him.
With the Associated Press