Police Abuse

NYPD Releases Video of Wrongful James Blake Arrest

Undercover cop has history of complaints


As we noted earlier this week, an undercover cop from the NYPD arrested James Blake after he was wrongfully identified as a suspect in an identity theft sting. The cop arrested Blake using what New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called a "fast approach." See for yourself, via CBS News: 

While Bratton offered his condolences (the police parlance for sorry) to Blake, he defended the officer's decision to arrest, saying he had probable cause because two of the witnesses, including a courier for the suspect, identified Blake as the alleged scammer. One of the detectives said Blake looked like a "twin" for the suspect, but no photo of the alleged suspect, or word of his arrest, has been released yet.  

Blake says the issue isn't race but the unnecessary use of force. The NYPD says it will investigate whether the officer used excessive force and whether he identified himself as a cop when he was supposed to. It likely won't investigate whether "fast approaches" are appropriate in cases like this, or other cases. 

As a commenter noted in the last story, were Blake some deli employee the story likely wouldn't make the news and police would brush it off as an unfortunate, unavoidable mistake, if he didn't spend a few days in jail first. What's he going to tell his boss, it was a case of mistaken identity? It gets even worse for him if he's black. 

It may not be a hypothetical. The officer who arrested James Blake, James Frascatore, has a history of complaints lodged against his use of force. A number of the proposals of Campaign Zero would help keep people like Frascatore off police forces, including access to disciplinary and complaint histories, and fairer police contracts which allow police departments to be stricter about cops who face multiple complaints and/or disciplinary actions.