Wednesday, September 16, 2015

As James Blake Calls for James Frascatore’s NYPD Badge, Hear Firsthand Account of Cop’s Violent Past

Retired professional tennis star James Blake was standing outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York on September 9, waiting for a car to go watch the U.S. Open, when surveillance video shows undercover police officer James Frascatore run at him, wrap an arm around his neck, tackle him to the ground and handcuff him. Blake, who is biracial, never resisted. Police say they mistakenly identified Blake as a suspect in a credit card fraud probe.NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the arrest "should not have happened," and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has personally apologized to Blake. At least one officer has been placed on administrative desk duty after the incident, but Blake is calling for Frascatore to be fired as more is being learned about his record. Frascatore has worked for four different police departments in the last five years and has had five complaints in just seven months against him registered with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) — more complaints than 90 percent of officers on the force receive in their entire careers. Several other cases have yet to be reported. The CCRB, an independent agency charged with handling complaints against the police department, has its own problematic history, criticized for covering up police misconduct, operating in secret and colluding with the NYPD. We speak with Kenneth Finkelman, a Legal Aid Society staff attorney who represented a Queens resident who claimed that Frascatore punched him in the face after he was stopped for a broken taillight; Warren Diggs, who was pinned on the ground by Frascatore and two other officers for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk; and Amy Rameau, a civil rights attorney representing Diggs.

NYPD Union Chief Calls James Blake Arrest Critics 'Un-American'

Patrick Lynch has a lot of venom for "arm-chair judges."

New York City police union chief Patrick Lynch said Tuesday it's "irresponsible, unjust and un-American" to criticize cops for wrongfully slamming retired tennis star James Blake to the ground outside his Manhattan hotel.
In a scathing open letter addressed to "all arm-chair judges," Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, tears into public condemnation of Officer James Frascatore's tackling of Blake, who was mistaken for a suspect in an identify theft ring. The former tennis great was arrested, handcuffed and detained for about 15 minutes before police realized their error last week.
"If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good," Lynch begins. 
The arrest of Blake, which prompted apologies from Mayor Bill de Blasio and policeCommissioner Bill Bratton, was caught on security footage
Lynch has no apologies in his letter, just venom, for anyone who would cast judgment on the situation before a full investigation is completed.
"It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video," Lynch writes. "That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American."
The union chief says no one should jump to "uninformed conclusions" based on the video.
"Police officers have earned the benefit of the doubt because of the dangers we routinely face," Lynch says. 
Frascatore has a history of force complaints and has been subject of much criticism since the arrest video surfaced. He has since been placed on modified duty, something Lynch criticized earlier as "premature and unwarranted." 
Blake has said that race "probably" played a role in the incident. He also criticized the arrest as a case of police using an unnecessary amount of force.
"No matter what," Blake said, "there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody."
Bratton has categorically denied that race was a factor.

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