James Blake takes a stand against the officer who assaulted him


Jaelyn Allen | Staff Writer

Manhattan, NY—Former no. 4 world ranked tennis player James Blake was tackled by a plainclothes police officer outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel earlier this month during the 2015 U.S. Open. Blake was waiting outside to be taken to the tournament to make a promotional appearance.

The NYPD released a video of Blake being tackled and cuffed by officer James Frascatore, who has been stripped of his gun and badge temporarily while the investigation takes place. Frascatore had mistaken Blake for a credit card fraud suspect the police had been looking for.

“He picked me up and body slammed me and put me on the ground and told me to turn over and shut my mouth and put the cuffs on me,” Blake told ABC’s Good Morning America. “The first words out of my mouth were, ‘I’m going to 100 percent cooperate. I don’t want any incident or whatever,’ just out of reaction from what I’ve seen in the media.”

“At no time did he let me know he was a police officer. He just put the cuffs on me and said, ‘Stand up,’” Blake said. “I asked what was going on and he said, ‘We’ll tell you soon.'”

Blake was seen on surveillance video shaking hands with Frescatore and conversing with another officer minutes after the incident; however, he has called for the officer to be fired for police brutality.

“I don’t think he deserves a badge,” he said.

Frascatore has a past history of using excessive force.  Only being in the NYPD four years, he has been sued at least four times for roughing up suspects.  The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is now investigating him for this incident.

“I want him to know what he did was wrong, and that in my opinion he doesn’t deserve to ever have a badge or gun again because he doesn’t know how to handle that responsibility effectively,” Blake told the Daily News.

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said he apologized to the former tennis star the day after the incident. Mayor Bill de Blasio also apologized. Bratton agreed that the incident should have never happened but insists it had nothing to do with race.

“I don’t believe that race was a factor,” Bratton said. “This rush to put a race tag on it, I’m sorry, that’s not involved in this at all.”

James Blake, who is biracial, 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. … I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close (to being OK). It’s blatantly unnecessary.”

William Bratton has ordered an internal investigation and is trying to figure out how the incident happen and whether or not inappropriate force was used. He also defended reports that the officer did not display a badge, stating that he may have been undercover.

“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,” said President of the New York City police union, Patrick Lynch, to CNN,  “No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts.”

The U.S. Tennis Association showed support for James Blake, calling the incident “troubling.”

“James is the embodiment of a model citizen whose triumphs on and off the court continue to inspire tennis fans and non-fans alike,” the UTSA said. “We will continue to offer our support to James in any way we can as this investigation unfolds.”

Given his past history, Frascatore probably should not have been in the field anyway. The situation raises many questions as to why that type of force would be acceptable anytime. If someone can be tackled for something like credit card fraud, what is the protocol for something more severe?

Unarmed Black Teen Shot by Police Officer in Portsmouth


Marquise Brown | Contributing Writer

Portsmouth- On April 22, 2015, Portsmouth police officer, Stephen Rankin shot and killed 18-year-old teen, William Chapman in Portsmouth, Virginia while in a Walmart parking lot. Chapman, who was unarmed during the shooting, was shot in the face and chest. Medical Examiner, Donna Price ruled the shooting a homicide.

A few months before the shooting occurred, Chapman just left a group home and went to live with his mom on Gilmerton Avenue. “He was away for awhile until I got myself together,” Sallie Chapman, mother of William, told The Virginian-Pilot in an interview. She said she hadn’t heard from her son all day on Wednesday, calling 911 to report him missing around 6 p.m. that evening.

Portsmouth police received a call from WalMart around 7:18 a.m. on March 22 saying that there was a suspected shoplifter. Officer Stephen Rankin arrived on the scene at 7:32 a.m. meeting Chapman in the parking lot. Witnesses say that Chapman was shot after a struggle between Officer Rankin.

Chapman was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. After the killing, witnesses reported that Chapman resisted the arrest and was running towards Rankin as the officer fired shots at him. This is the second police-involved murder in Portsmouth this year.

Stephen Rankin, a White Police Officer has been involved in two killing incidents. Back in 2011, Rankin reportedly killed 26-year-old unarmed Kirill Denyakin. According to The Guardian, the autopsy found that Rankin shot Denyakin 11 times. Residents in the city voiced their thoughts about the shooting in the comments section of a local newspaper site.

One screen name, ‘yourealythinkthat’ commented, “What is the difference if it was one round or 11 rounds or 111 rounds?” The statement went on saying, “When I was in Iraq, that would have been a good shot, in fact, nobody would have really given it a second thought.”

The United States Navy Veteran, Rankin, admitted that the screen name was him after speaking under oath six months later in the section. Rankin has been identified as a 35-year-old, trained in martial arts while in the Navy. He was once disciplined for posting violent remarks of Nazi images online.

“It never should have happened,” Sallie Chapman told WAVY News 10. “I have to bury my son, my son is supposed to bury me.” Chapman’s mother has claimed that her son’s hands were hurt so badly that the funeral workers refused to lay them across his chest. The Portsmouth Police Department is conducting an investigation separate into the officer’s actions whether if they followed the police department policy.