Retired tennis star James Blake was on his way to the U.S. Open Wednesday when he found himself tackled, handcuffed and detained by a group of NYPD officers.
Blake told the New York Daily News that, as he was waiting for a car outside the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street, he found himself under attack, calling it "scary and definitely crazy."
On Friday, NYPD released video of the wrongful arrest.
NYPD releases video of James Blake being arrested. pic.twitter.com/OD4HQINlJy— Ryan Ruggiero (@RyanRuggiero) September 11, 2015
Blake, who retired after the 2013 U.S. Open, was on his way to Flushing Meadows for media appearances.
The 35-year-old African-American said that all five officers were white, and thought that race played a role in the incident.
"To me, it's as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is," he said. "In my mind there's probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody."
Blake, who suffered cuts and bruises, was told that it was a case of mistaken identity, but he was unhappy about the force that was used.
"I was just standing there," he said. "I wasn't running. It's not even close (to be OK). It's blatantly unnecessary."
Blake said that he was originally tackled by an officer wearing shorts and a T-shirt that didn't display a badge. Four other officers quickly surrounded him.
After explaining his identity and letting them examine his ID and US Open credential, Blake was released. He said only one of the five officers apologized, which he doesn't think is sufficient.
"You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn't OK, but it seems that there's no stopping it," said Blake, who has asked for an official apology from the NYPD.
The NYPD wasn't ready to do that, but did issue a statement Wednesday evening.
"Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness. Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately. In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate."
Blake, who attended Harvard before a pro career that saw him win $7.9 million, said he feels obligated to speak out on behalf of people who don't have his public platform.
Blake runs two charitable foundations, one dedicated to speeding up medical discoveries and the other, named after his father, that funds cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. That hospital is less than two miles from where Blake was taken down in Wednesday's incident.