The Slatest

Black, Harvard-Educated Ex-Tennis Star Says NYPD Tackled Him Outside Luxury Hotel

James Blake at a U.S. Open event in New York on Aug. 31.

Rob Kim/Getty

James Blake is a 35-year-old former tennis pro and former Harvard student who is in New York City to make appearances related to the ongoing U.S. Open. He’s also black, and he says he was slammed to the ground and detained outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in midtown Manhattan Wednesday by five white NYPD officers who apparently believed he was a criminal suspect. From the New York Daily News:

Blake said he had just answered a few questions from a writer for a tennis magazine and was texting when he looked up and saw someone in shorts and a T-shirt charging at him, splitting the doorman outside the Hyatt, an official hotel for the U.S. Tennis Association … Blake said the officer, who he said was not wearing a badge, picked him up and threw him down on the sidewalk.

Blake was told he’d been identified as a suspect in an identity theft ring and spent 15 minutes in handcuffs, he says, before being let go with an apology (although the apology came from a different officer than the one who’d tackled him). “To me it’s as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is,” he told the Daily News. “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.”

NBA player and trilingual Switzerland native Thabo Sefolosha, who is black, reportedly suffered a broken leg earlier this year while being arrested for allegedly interfering with NYPD officers at the scene of a stabbing.