Officer Who Tackled James Blake Was Told He Might Be Armed

Officer Frascatore said his goal that day was to quickly apprehend the suspect “as quickly as possible” by using the element of surprise to prevent an altercation or a foot chase amid the heavy traffic in front of the hotel, which is near Grand Central Terminal.

Jonathan Fogel, the review board prosecutor, challenged Officer Frascatore’s reasoning. He noted that a taxi had screeched to a halt and honked at Officer Frascatore when he ran into the street, ruining the potential for surprise. And when Officer Frascatore arrested the actual target, Jermaine Grey, a few minutes later, he did not use any force or search Mr. Grey for weapons.

Mr. Worth argued that the different circumstances of the two arrests warranted different tactics: Mr. Blake was taken into custody outside on a busy street, while Mr. Grey was caught inside the hotel.

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Officer James Frascatore

Credit
New York Police Department

The trial on Tuesday began more than two years after the incident, following a series of delays and the collapse of a plea deal that would have allowed Officer Frascatore to plead no-contest and forfeit 10 vacation days.

Mr. Blake recently reached a civil settlement with the city that created a fellowship at the review board whose occupant would evaluate cases like his.

The wives of Mr. Blake and Officer Frascatore sat in the front row of the trial room as Mr. Fogel and Mr. Worth examined surveillance video of the incident and drew testimony from the officer, the tennis player and a hotel doorman who witnessed the encounter.

Mr. Fogel said Officer Frascatore had used “brutal, unprovoked violence, your honor, that has no place in our society,” adding that the case was a test of the Police Department’s “willingness to tolerate a police officer using unprovoked violence.”

Mr. Worth countered that Officer Frascatore’s actions were “reasonable, responsible, not excessive.”

On the witness stand, Mr. Blake recalled thinking that Officer Frascatore was a former teammate from his high school wrestling team who had happened to spot him on the street. The takedown, he said, seemed like “a friendly encounter” between former wrestlers until Officer Frascatore put him in handcuffs and stuck a knee in his back.

Within a few minutes, the officers determined that Mr. Blake was not the man they were looking for and…

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