Former tennis star James Blake reportedly says he was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and detained today by a group of plainsclothes New York Police Department officers who mistook him for a credit card fraud suspect.
"Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness," the NYPD told ABC News in a statement today. "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."
Blake, 35, told ABC station WABC-TV in New York that the incident "shouldn't have happened" and that "hopefully there is a video of it and people can see what happened."
He said he said he wants an apology. Blake’s agent declined to comment to ABC News.
The former tennis professional was outside midtown Manhattan's Grand Hyatt New York where he was staying before heading out to watch the U.S. Open, when he looked up from his phone and saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt charging at him, he told the New York Daily News. Blake added that the officer, who he said wasn't wearing a badge, then picked him up, yelled at him to roll over on his face and said, "Don't say a word."
According to the Daily News, Blake said he responded, "I'm going to do whatever you say. I'm going to cooperate. But do you mind if I ask what this is all about?"
The officer then reportedly said, "We'll tell you. You are in safe hands," according to Blake, who said he replied that he "didn't feel very safe."
Four other cops then joined the officer who detained Blake, the Daily News reported, adding that Blake was handcuffed for 15 minutes before the cops realized they had the wrong person and released him.
When asked by the Daily News whether he considered it a case of racial profiling, Blake said, "I don't know if it's as simple as that. To me it's as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is. In my mind there's probably a race factor involved, but no matter what there's no reason for anybody to do that to anybody."
Blake, who left Harvard University after two years for a pro tennis tour, has multiple accomplishments, including reaching the finals of the 2006 Tennis Masters Cup, the semifinals of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2008 and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in 2005 and 2006.