By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — I saw that commotion outside the Grand Hyatt on East 42nd Street at around noon on Wednesday as I was “patrolling” the Manhattan area hours before I proceeded to Flushing in Queens for the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
It would have been another case of being in the right place at the right time.
I developed this habit of taking photos with my Samsung mobile phone left and right while combing this city, and I intended to take a photo of the three patrol cars, their red lights blinking, parked on the other side of the street where I was walking.
But as soon as I was near where the action was taking place–or has already taken place, my attention was caught by a “dying” dove on the sidewalk (I will soon post the bird’s photo on my social media page).
Other people also ignored the Grand Hyatt hotel tumult thinking it was a regular police operation.
Lo and behold, it was not a normal New York City Police Department (NYPD) sting.
The cops were arresting–wrongfully–a former No. 4 tennis player in the world they mistook for a cellphone thief.
The following day and the days thereafter, the news headlines were blaring at the “wrongful arrest” of James Blake, an African-American, who resembled the criminal they were looking for.
While Blake was standing outside the hotel waiting for his ride to the Arthur Ashe (National Tennis Center), a plaincloth cop approached and slammed him to the pavement and handcuffed the 35-year-old former tennis champion.
Until they figured out they had the wrong man!
The New York Post actually identified “five white plainclothes officers investigating the case” who threw Blake to the ground, “and then pinned him against a wall as they cuffed him, according to sources.”
He was held for at least a half-hour before the cops realized their mistake, reported the newspaper.
A video released most recently showed Blake was “attacked” by a single cop in civilian attire.
While waiting for the 9/11 14th year ceremonial at the World Trade Center on Friday, I picked up some papers and the story refused to die.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who called the incident “very disturbing” Wednesday night, was very apologetic and offered to meet the tennis star, who wanted nothing but an apology for the humiliating incident.
Blake said the incident “should not have happened and it’s something we’ll deal with the police . Hopefully, there’s video of it and people can see what happened.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly willing to meet Blake together with Bratton to assuage the tennis player’s emotion.
Blake’s wrongful arrest, a big embarrassment for the NYPD, obscured Roger Federer’s shellacking of Star Wawrinka, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 and Novak Djokovic’s trouncing of Marin Cilic in another semis match on Friday.