UPDATE 11:18 A.M.
New York Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton has spoken further about an incident Wednesday in which undercover detectives tackles former pro tennis player James Blake after mistaking him for a suspect in an identity theft case.
“We are very interested in speaking with Mr. Blake … to extend our apology. It should not have happened,” Bratton said, per New York’s NBC affiliate. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also wants to apologize, Bratton told reporters during a short news conference Thursday morning at police headquarters.
Bratton added that he had “concerns about the takedown” and “use of force” involved in the incident. He said the arresting officer in the incident, who’s been with the NYPD for about four years, has had his badge and gun taken away and placed on a modified assignment, pending an internal-affairs investigation.
New York Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton on Thursday denied that race played a role in an incident involving former professional tennis player James Blake, who on Wednesday was tackled to the ground by plain-clothes police officers who had mistaken him for a suspect in an identity-theft case.
“Sorry, race has nothing at all to do with this,” Bratton told CNN’s “New Day.” “If you look at the photograph of the suspect, it looks like the twin brother of Mr. Blake. So let’s put that nonsense to rest right now.”
Bratton also told CNN that he has ordered an internal-affairs probe of the incident, and that one of the involved officers has been moved to desk duty after police officials viewed surveillance video of the incident.
Blake, whose father is black and whose mother is white, appeared Thursday on “Good Morning America” and said he believed the incident was a case of excessive force rather than racial profiling.
Blake, 35, wasn’t seriously injured in the incident, but the run-in left him with bruises on his left leg and a cut on his elbow. He was waiting at his hotel for his ride to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, where he was making promotional appearances.
CNN has more on what the NYPD detectives were looking for:
Detectives from the Identity Theft Task Force were investigating the purchase of cell phones using fraudulent credit cards, two law enforcement sources told CNN.
Investigators organized a sting operation at the Hyatt Hotel, where phones were delivered to a male suspect who was later taken into custody, the law enforcement sources said.
That suspect identified two people in the lobby of the Hyatt to whom he had delivered cell phones that were purchased with a fraudulent credit card, they added.
Blake, who was once ranked No. 4 in the world, was one of the people placed in handcuffs but was let go shortly after a retired NYPD officer informed detectives that Blake was a tennis player.
“Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately,” the NYPD said in a statement.