Tennis: Officer in James Blake arrest used excessive force, says panel

This image taken from CCTV shows former tennis star James Blake (blue shirt) being slammed to the ground and handcuffed by undercover officer James Frascatore on Sept 9, 2015.
This image taken from CCTV shows former tennis star James Blake (blue shirt) being slammed to the ground and handcuffed by undercover officer James Frascatore on Sept 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYT) - The plainclothes police officer who tackled retired tennis player James Blake to the sidewalk during an arrest in Manhattan last month used excessive force, according to an investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, New York City's independent agency for police misconduct.

In a letter sent to Blake's lawyer on Tuesday, the board said it had completed its investigation into the conduct of the officer, James Frascatore, during the arrest on Sept. 9 in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street in Midtown.

The actions of Frascatore, recorded on surveillance video, prompted outrage and happened amid a national conversation over the proper use of force by police officers.

The board substantiated the charge of excessive force against Frascatore and recommended the stiffest punishment: departmental charges that could lead to suspension or dismissal.

Frascatore will now face an internal Police Department trial to determine the outcome in his case; the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, has the final say on discipline of officers.

A lawyer for Frascatore did not immediately return a call on Wednesday seeking comment.

The review board also found that a detective who authorized the arrest, Daniel Herzog, abused his authority in connection with the arrest, which occurred during a sting operation related to credit card fraud; Blake was mistaken for a suspect.

The board recommended that Herzog be given a command discipline, which could result in a loss of vacation days. (The police arrested two men at the scene; Blake was released shortly after officers realized he was a former tennis star and not a suspect in the sting.)

"I want to express my appreciation to the Civilian Complaint Review Board for their quick and thorough review of the incident where I was attacked," Blake said in a statement.

"I have complete respect for the principle of due process and appreciate the efforts of the CCRB to advance this investigation."

Blake's lawyer, Kevin H. Marino, said his client "looks forward to participating in the forthcoming trial."