ABC News(NEW YORK) — Former tennis pro James Blake says the first person he called after being thrown to the ground and handcuffed by New York City police officers Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity was his wife, and she is the reason he is speaking publicly about the incident.
“She said, ‘What if this happened to me?’ Blake said Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America of his wife, Emily. “Immediately, I was furious because I thought about what I would be thinking if someone did that to my wife, if someone tackled her in broad daylight, paraded her around in a busy, crowded sidewalk in New York City with handcuffs with her cuffed behind her back, and taking away her dignity.
“I couldn’t accept that,” Blake said.
The former tennis professional, 35, was standing outside midtown Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt New York while waiting to be driven to the U.S. Open for a promotional appearance around noon Wednesday, when he looked up from his phone and saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt charging at him.
“He picked me up and body slammed me and put me on the ground and told me to turn over and shut my mouth and put the cuffs on me,” Blake said of the plainclothes NYPD officer. “The first words out of my mouth were, ‘I’m going to 100 percent cooperate. I don’t want any incident or whatever,’ just out of reaction from what I’ve seen in the media.
“At no time did he let me know he was a police officer. He just put the cuffs on me and said, ‘Stand up,’” Blake said on GMA. “I asked what was going on and he said, ‘We’ll tell you soon.’”
Blake said he was detained by a group of around five police officers for a total 15 minutes and suffered “a couple of bumps and bruises.” The former No. 4 in the world tennis player had to tell police officers to check his back pocket, which has holding his U.S. Open credential.
“I said, ‘Look, officer, I’m scared so if I say something wrong I’m sorry, but I just want to know what’s going on. I think you have the wrong person,’” Blake recalled. “I had my credential for the U.S. Open in my back pocket and [I said], ‘Please check that. You can tell I’m a former player. It’s a final eight badge. It means I did pretty well at the U.S. Open. I’d like to clear my name.’”
The NYPD confirmed the incident to ABC News in a statement Wednesday, writing that Blake was mistakenly detained, “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,” the statement read.
Blake, a Harvard grad who had already announced plans to run the New York …read more