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Monday, October 24, 2016

Sometimes police tapes can be misleading. Not this one. Sometimes suspects demand force. Not this one. Sometimes a cop has a really good reason. Not this one.

The videotape of James Blake being arrested in New York City last week leaves nothing to the imagination. Blake, a former tennis star, is the portrait of relaxation, leaning against the front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, waiting for a ride, when a burly, plainclothes police officer comes barreling in like a blitzing linebacker, grabs Blake’s left arm, then the back of his neck, and forces him face down to the sidewalk.

Blake does not resist. He does not struggle. He later told the news media that he was speaking calmly, even acknowledging police have a tough job, but insisting the cop had the wrong guy.

Blake claimed that he was never read his rights, that the officer never followed his suggestion to check his U.S. Open ID, and that he was paraded past the public before ultimately being released 15 minutes later. Six plainclothes officers were involved, yet not one of them filed the paperwork required when a false arrest is made.

If Blake, a Harvard-educated biracial man once ranked among the top 10 tennis players in the world, hadn’t spoken out, you wonder whether we’d ever know about this. I doubt it.

That should bother us greatly.

By the way, here’s the crime the cops were investigating: credit card fraud. Not murder. Not a shooting. No reason to believe the suspect was armed. Yes, the man they were looking for bore a great resemblance to Blake (although he turned out not to be the culprit either). So what? Did the officer really have to pin Blake to the ground — without as much as a question? In what world is that OK? Maybe the old Soviet Union? Germany during World War II? Not here. This country. Credit card fraud? Was he going to slash the officer with an American Express?

Sure, the suspect might have fled. But if “possible” flight were justification, you should be tackled every time you’re pulled over for a broken taillight.

Now when these things happen — and they seem to happen every week — people scatter to familiar sides. Some defend police for having the toughest job on Earth. Some decry police as bullies. Some cite procedure. Some flip through law books.

But nobody should ignore the fact that this cop, James Frascatore, has been sued at least four times for roughing up suspects during arrests. And he has been on the New York force for only four years.

I’m no mathematician, but that’s a pretty bad average.

And so the same way we ask how a drunken driver is behind the wheel after multiple violations, we should ask how this cop still is making arrests at this time in this country. And we should wonder if the victim of his aggression wasn’t a once-famous tennis player, would Frascatore, who had his gun and badge stripped by an embarrassed police commissioner, still be out there treating others this way?

You know the answer. It’s yes.

That, too, should bother us greatly.

You notice I’ve barely mentioned race. That’s because race should not be the lead on this story — although it sure may be part of it. It does seem that Frascatore, who is white, has issues with black suspects, given multiple New York media reports citing black individuals claiming he roughed them up (including punching a man in the face for a broken taillight). And if true, it’s beyond disgusting, and his continued presence on the force is a blight that should be wiped out immediately.

But the fact that Blake, 35, doing nothing, leaning against a front wall of a major Manhattan hotel, can be body slammed this way should speak volumes about how some cops handle things away from mean streets and racial tension.

“To me it’s as simple as unnecessary police force, no matter what my race is,” Blake told the news media. He also correctly pointed out that, “I have the resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice. But what about the person who doesn’t have the resources and doesn’t have a voice?”

That person would likely be bruised, scarred and wondering how this could happen in America, while police who didn’t file a report went about their business and a cowboy cop with four lawsuits against him continued to play Wild, Wild West.

And that should really bother us.

Because that person could be you.


Image: Ex-tennis star James Blake is shown handcuffed by a NYPD officer James Frascatore (R) in front of the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York on September 9, 2015 in this still image from a security camera video released on September 11, 2015. REUTERS/NYPD/Handout

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  • Daniel Jones

    Blacks are the most frequent target, but I for one am tired of anyone having to put up with the Police States Against Americans instead of the United States Of America.

    • Larry Gagnon

      Hi Daniel: I really hate to say that I agree with you, but there are a great many laws that criminalize behavior that hurts no third party. I do not see any political leader on the horizon who has the fortitude to fight for real freedom for the individual. What in the world was Mr. Frascatore thinking?

      • Joan

        Our current police force training program is an us against them mindset. They are taught effective ways to deal with force but no deesclation strategies. They are fearful that nearly every interaction with a citizen could involve violence against them.
        They do have a hard job – but it is less hard than they think. There is the possibility of violence but that too is less than they think. If we paid them better, respected them more we could attract a better class of person to the job.

  • Arie

    You need to watch the whole video to see how horribly unacceptable the action of this policeman is. I can not believe that anybody would even begin to defend this kind of behaviour. The guy is a thug who should never have been a policeman in the first place. And I am sure that there are many Frascatores in the New York PD and in police forces around the country. Quite a mess to be cleaned up.

  • Dominick Vila

    Just another travesty of justice in a long string of similar incidents. By next week, if not sooner, nobody will even remember this incident, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will be done to end the abuses of power we see, almost on a weekly basis, in every city and town in the USA.

    • Independent1

      Police departments clearly need to start doing a much better job of screening applicants for police officer positions, to ensure that the people applying to be police officers, are not just repressed bullies who are looking for a way that they can supposedly ‘legalize,’ an opportunity for them to go around and bully the people they’re supposed to be protecting.

      • Jinmichigan

        Police departments, especially the NYPD, have proved over and over they are not capable of policing their own. It just does not happen. I don’t have an answer, and they don’t either.

        • Independent1

          What I’m suggesting may not be a solution, but it could be a start. I’m not convinced that police departments do enough to check the mental state of police officer candidates. So if police departments keep hiring the equivalent of bullies, rather than officers who would be prone to call out bullying/use of excessive force when they see it – which seems to be part of the problem – that bullying isn’t reported because so many in the police forces appear to be bully minded – then of course – the problem will never be solved because bullying just becomes part of the police force culture.

          • Jinmichigan

            You may be right. I expect that people with authority issues, (bullies), are drawn to want to be police. I also expect the leadership of most police came up through the ranks, so they will not see this as a problem.

  • RED

    How many times do we need to see evidence that the the blue thugs are violent sociopaths? Some of the blame lies with ourselves for allowing, even encouraging the creation of these violent & deadly gangs of blue thugs that roam our streets in search of prey. Americans have been just fine with these gangsters until Americans realized these gangsters weren’t just attacking the “others, the bad people.” Of course some morons still cling to the idea that police are still only getting the “bad guys.” Clearly people who think that are damaged and likely suffering terribly from the Con sickness. The facts are that we gave these gangsters the green light to assault anyone and everyone when Reagan declared the War on Americans. So for 30 years or more these violent sociopaths referred to as “police” have assaulted, murder, and oppressed the people, careful to target only the poor & defenseless. Like all criminals, If questioned these blue gangsters knew what to say, “he had a gun” or “he was on drugs” so we had to kill him. Just ignore all the facts and evidence that has shown drugs rarely make anyone violent.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      Unfortunately, it isn’t just cops these days going wild animal. Everywhere you look some angry young man is ready to pounce. Why this has happened is anyone’s guess.

      The loud angry voices are everywhere and the fists are pumped. In states that allow it, mini Rambos strut and swagger intimidating anyone on a public street. When they get no attention, they haul out a relic CONfederate flag as if that is something that should have the rest of us running for cover.

      • RED

        I don’t disagree with you. But I will point out that the “angry young man” you refer to is exactly who joins the police force because they are fully aware that their violence is far easier to perpetrate with protection from the State. Plus there is a huge difference between angry young men who are criminals and violence committed by the State sponsored thugs. Let’s end the government assault on us.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          I do agree with you that many of these angry young males join a police force fully aware of their leverage to exercise their violent natures. However, they take an oath when they are sworn in to uphold the US Constitution and the laws of their state and towns.

          I wish it was just criminals who are angry young men today. What I see are middle class males who are ordinary citizens acting like wild animals.

          If I didn’t know better, I’d think all of those violent reality shows they watch on TV are beginning to create a generation of wild animal Road Warriors raging at anything that comes their way.

          • Jinmichigan

            Seriously, do you think the cop in this story gives two craps about any oath? Not likely.

          • Independent1

            It’s not just the violent reality shows, I think it’s also the moronic and violent computer-based games that abound today which simulate auto thefts, killing people and more that parents allow their kids to play nonstop which completely desensitizes even today’s teenagers.

  • 1Zoe55

    Did anyone else notice the compassionate arrest of Dylan Roof (sp?), the young man who murdered innocent people in their Church? The policemen arresting Dylan stopped and bought him a hamburger because he was hungry. This compassion needs to be extended to most people who, by the way, are innocent until provem guilty. There are always the violent cases and my sympathy extends to the policemen who have to deal with this. There are more good police than bad, but with the idea of the “thin blue line” of never calling out the corrupt behavior is what hurts the police. I wonder where Serpico is living these days?

    • Jinmichigan

      Yes, this was noted. Funny how color seems to matter.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    It doesn’t help that Police Commissioner Kelly is not exactly a reasonable man. And this is who Noo Yawkahs want for a mayor? I can just see it now. Every Noo Yawk cop stopping black men for no justifiable reason. At some point, some very smart person will realize that being stopped just because you “look” like someone a cop thinks is the profile of a criminal is a violation of the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

    What this cop did was violate this man’s 4th Amendment rights to be secure in his person. Time for citizens to turn the tables right back on those who misuse and abuse the Constitution.

    A police badge does not exempt ANY cop from Constitutional violations. Then, they wonder why police departments end up with massive law suits?

    • BillP

      Eleanore I agree with you but Bratton is the current Police Commissioner of NYC.
      Kelly left in 2013.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        I stand corrected. Thank you.

  • CrankyToo

    This bully, Frascatore is obviously a dirtbag of the first order. He’s a scourge on the reputations of respectable police officers everywhere – the ones who wear their badges and serve their communities with dignity and restraint.

    They should throw his fat a$$ underneath the jail and leave him there for a few years to contemplate the evil of his ways.

    • charleo1

      You know, for a cranky guy, you sound pretty reasonable to me! Well said.

      • CrankyToo

        Thanks, Chuck. I do try to maintain an even keel…

  • rednekokie

    The argument is always that the cop is in danger because he could be shot or stabbed by the “perp”.

    Yes, that’s true — it could happen, and occasionally does. That’s the chance a police officer takes when approaching someone who could do that.
    But the situation when this would occur is rare, compared to the mis-arrests that go on now in our country.
    Whether they admit it or not, police are not above the law. When they ignore the constitution, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, just as any other citizen. The fact that they are not is a blight upon our republic, turning it quite frankly, into a military state governed by thugs.
    I firmly believe that all this has happened by our loose governing of firearms. One of the loosest of those regulations is firearms in the hands of the police. It is far too easy for an unreasonably thuggish cop to simply shoot someone and then make flimsy excuses for why he did it.

    As long as police think they have the power to act like thugs, they will be, in actuality, thugs.

    This has, somehow, got to stop.

  • Insinnergy

    Apart from the violence, and needless violence, and the obvious fact that whoever is control of these guys has failed to train them properly… the worst part is this:
    “Six plainclothes officers were involved, yet not one of them filed the paperwork required when a false arrest is made.”
    This means it’s SOP and endemic to not follow the rules when you might be embarrassed by the result.

    • JPHALL

      And guess what? The odds of a jury in the US finding any of these “police officers” guilty is almost zero. Video means nothing!

  • plc97477

    I am getting very tired of hearing how hard a job police have. I want to point out to them that this kind of behavior is not going to make their jobs easier. You thought it was dangerous before wait until the citizens think they have to shoot first or lose their life. And it is getting there. You want wild west, you are going to have it including 20 paces if you are lucky.

    • JPHALL

      It is already here. Several officers have been targeted recently, That is why police have become targets recently. The officer does not have to done anything to now become a target,

  • republican demographic

    The slavish, mindless worship of the police as heroic public servants is based on a fiction and dangerous. The outrage of the Blake situation is that the man he was mistaken for was wanted for a non-violent crime. Why does using stolen credit cards justify the force used on even the right suspect? Was this cop an undisciplined tough guy acting out his Lethal Weapon fantasies in front of a fancy hotel to attract attention or a scaredy cat pansy like George Zimmerman playing tough guy and over-reacting? The answer is both and more…the fact that the NYPD doesn’t reboot the training and discipline of its entire department is a disgrace and disappointment.

  • LawBear

    This is what hapens when we, the taxpayers, give guns, tazers and batons to uneducated sociopaths. It’s time to treat the cops like politicians and send them all home and start over.

  • stephan ostanock

    Uneducated goons who are trained for war! Protect and serve my a-ssssss, and the best liars in the world ! None of this should have ever happened! PERIOD! a bad rotten cop just check his record!