James Blake thinks about it all the time. What if he had fought back when a man attacked and forced him to ground that day in New York? What if his brother or some friends had been with him, and tried to offer assistance?
He knows the situation could’ve been much worse.
New York police officer James Frascatore said at his disciplinary hearing that he was trying to use the element of surprise to apprehend a man who was a suspect in a credit card fraud ring and Blake matched the description. Surveillance video shows Frascatore, a plain clothes officer, twisting Blake’s left arm, grabbing him by the back of his neck and pulling him down to the sidewalk outside a Manhattan hotel.
Blake said the officer never identified himself as being a member of law enforcement, and that was backed up by the testimony of a hotel doorman who witnessed the incident.
“He said that he declared he was an officer and that wasn’t true,” Blake told USA TODAY Sports. “He didn’t say a word and the doorman said the same thing. If he had said he was a police officer, I would’ve remembered and (the doorman) would’ve remembered.
“He just ran up to me and grabbed me, if I had been violent in nature it could‘ve really escalated. I’m lucky for the way I handled it. I thought it might have been a fan initially.
“I think about that often.”
Frascatorie testified during the hearing that “(Blake) stated he was confused and didn’t know what was going on. I told him ‘I’m a police officer. Don’t worry, you’re in safe hands.’”
Frascatore’s hearing ended Tuesday. If New York deputy police commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado and police commissioner James O’Neill find Frascatore guilty of using excessive force, it could result in his losing vacation days or possibly being terminated.
Blake, a successful professional tennis player who was ranked in the top 10 during the mid-2000s, earned almost $8 million in prize money on the ATP World Tour. He said he thinks that his resources were what enabled him to wait it out as a decision on discipline for Frascatore has taken two years to reach a conclusion.
“My gut is he’ll be found guilty and get a slap on the wrist,” Blake said. “To me, that’s not a punishment that has any teeth. I think that will just embolden him.
“This was on video and he has done it before, so if he thinks he can get away with…