James Blake Drops Claim Against New York City in Exchange for Police Oversight

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Former tennis player James Blake agreed not to sue the City of New York after he was tackled during a mistaken arrest. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg/screenshot)

Retired tennis star James Blake withdrew his excessive-force claim against the City of New York in exchange for the creation of a legal fellowship in his name.

Beginning in January, the fellow will join the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board and serve two-year terms with the goal of assisting the agency by helping people in neighborhoods with a high volume of police complaints navigate the system. The city will fund the position for six years, along with a salary of no less than $65,000, according to the Associated Press.

An attorney for Blake, whose father is Black and mother is white, and the city announced the agreement on Wednesday, June 21.

Nearly two years ago, the former tennis star was tackled while waiting outside a Manhattan hotel by plainclothes Officer James Frascatore, who is white, who mistook him for a credit card fraud suspect.

The incident, which was captured on surveillance video, sparked outrage nationally. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and William Bratton, who was police commissioner at the time, offered apologies.

In May, Frascatore reached a disciplinary settlement with the review board that allowed him to avoid a public disciplinary trial. However, a trial in an administrative proceeding on excessive-force charges brought against him by the board is still expected to move forward, according to news reports.

Blake, 37, spoke out against the use of excessive force by police and filed a legal claim against the city, which will now be dropped in accordance with the agreement. In addition, the city has agreed to pay him about $175,000 for legal fees and travel expenses he incurred during negotiations.

Kevin Marino, Blake’s attorney, told The New York Times that his client, immediately after the incident, sought alternatives to a lawsuit.

“He said, ‘I’m certainly not interested in filing a lawsuit against the city to recoup money for me, but I would very much like to use this fortuitous event to make a real difference,’” Marino told the newspaper.

Last year, the newspaper reported, the review board cut short 55 percent of its investigations, mostly because victims or witnesses stopped cooperating and in other cases because the agency could not reach those people or because someone withdrew his or her complaint.

 

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