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.

NEXT: NYPD Releases James Blake Footage, Tragedy in Mecca, Marine Gender Integration Questions: P.M. Links

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  1. I commend him for not fighting back, because if some guy ran up to me like that and tried to corral me, my natural instinct would be to defend myself.

    1. It represents an immediate escalation of violence. Plain clothes officers should be especially careful about tackling subjects. Approach with your badge out, and warn the suspect that you’re a police officer (or a rapist who bought a badge off Ebay) and you’d like to ask a few questions. Some guy man handles me like that, and I’m going all George Zimmerman on ’em.

      1. Years ago after I lit up a cigarette on subway platform in Queens, a short, youngish woman told me to put it out, and I ignored her. Then she told me to put it out again, and I told her to fuck off. Turns out she was a police officer, and another plain clothes guy (smaller than me) came over and pushed me into a wall. I thankfully realized that she was fumbling with a badge and I stopped being an asshole. However, I was with friends, two of them very large men who were protective of me. They did not see the badges, and a shit-storm almost erupted. Uniformed police came running in and thankfully everything ended, but that could have instantly been a disaster, both for the cops (every person I was with was bigger than the undercover cops) and of course, for us (Rikers is not a fun place).

    2. I remember reading an interview with a NYPD officer in the late 90s or early 00s.

      The NYPD officer talked about hanging around on a street in NYC watching passers-by. He’d be wearing plain clothing, not a NYPD uniform. If he saw what the thought was a concealed gun printing through a passer-by’s clothing, he’d grab the person and ask the person, “Where’s your gun permit?”

      I remember thinking, when I read the interview, that since he was wearing plain clothes and didn’t say anything about showing a badge or identifying himself, that he was lucky he didn’t got shot or beat up.

      I went looking for the interview, I

      1. I pressed submit too soon.

        I went looking for the interview since I remember it being part of a story in Playboy. I couldn’t find it.

    3. ok, well you would’ve gotten your ass permanently beat down. (or shot). a real bad ass huh.

  2. Well I’m glad James Blake is a pussy or else he’d be dead right now for putting up a fight and defending himself.

    1. Good thing that all the passers-by were pussies, too.

      1. Yep. Although that old lady that points something out to the officer while he has his knee in Blake’s back was rather ballsy.

    2. I’m telling you! went down like a wet paper towel. nice online hissy fit too. nigga finally got his name in the headlines and handled it like a true tennis bitch.

  3. The officer who arrested James Blake, James Frascatore, has a history of complaints lodged against his use of force.

    Uhh, due process much? Frascatore’s past is neither here nor there. This use of force should be held in a vacuum.

  4. 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.

    That is actually not true; there is a photo of the suspect out, and he does, in fact, look a lot like Blake: http://www.tmz.com/2015/09/10/…..ect-photo/

    Not that that excuses the unnecessary violence of the arrest, of course, but at least it’s slightly better than the “we were looking for a Black man so we shot up a car with two Hispanic women in it” stuff we usually see from the police.

    1. Yes. And while a “fast approach” may be fine when dealing with robber or rapist, it seems a bit much to use it on someone suspected of identity theft. Why not just have 2-3 cops corner the guy, identify themselves, and ask him to come quietly?

      1. I can think of situations where the “fast approach” might be justified for identity theft, but they’re all pretty much the opposite of ‘suspect playing with phone in front of fancy hotel.’

        1. And the guy was already up against a wall. It’s not like he was in the middle of a plaza or something.

      2. because it’s a waste of taxpayer resources when the cop has such an amazing skill of subduing a suspect with no damage to anyone. Frascatore should get a medal for being a stud.

        he’s a wanted felon, you’re a numbskull.

    2. Of course, the guy in the picture also was not guilty of the credit card fraud. So the NYPD was double incompetent.

  5. “As a commenter noted in the last story”

    I have a handle, you know.

    1. “It gets even worse for him if he’s black.”

      That’s speculation. Mr. Blake says it’s about abuse of power, not race.

  6. It likely won’t investigate whether “fast approaches” are appropriate in cases like this, or other cases.

    I liked fast approach better when it was called the knockout game.

  7. 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.


  8. “We agree with the Police Commissioner that the first story is never the whole story and believe that placing this officer on modified duty is premature and unwarranted,” [Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick] Lynch said. “No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts.”

    Slamming someone face first into the pavement before a complete review of the facts, on the other hand…

  9. My blood pressure spiked just watching this.

  10. lol Surely they are gonna make a big ole “Black Thang” out of it now.


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