James Blake, a retired black tennis player that once ranked No. 4 in the world, was forcefully slammed to the ground and arrested by a white police officer in Manhattan in a brutal case of racial profiling.
The 35-year-old was on his way to make an appearance for Time Warner Cable at the U.S. Open, waiting for a car ride outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel. As he began to text on his phone, he looked up to see a person in a T-shirt and shorts running at him.
Blake assumed that it was someone he knew or a person running to him to give him a big hug, so he smiled at the guy. However, instead of a hug, Blake received a massive tackle.
The officer picked Blake up and slammed him to the concrete, before commanding the tennis player to roll over to a facedown position to be cuffed. A total of five cops held him down for 15 minutes, as Blake said that he will cooperate with the officers but asked what was happening.
An officer told Blake that they will tell him what it was about, and that he was in safe hands. Blake, however, replied that he did not feel very safe in the situation.
Blake suffered a cut on his left elbow, along with bruises on his left leg in the scuffle.
According to the police, Blake was only held in cuffs for a minute, with the tennis player being wrongly identified by a witness as being involved in a credit card fraud case.
While officers made an arrest of a suspect, a retired police officer told detectives that the second person was Blake, who was released after he confirmed his identity by presenting his license and Open credential.
"It was definitely scary and definitely crazy," Blake told New York 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."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that he has launched an investigation into the incident, adding that he will not be tolerating the excessive use of force among his officers.
Blake said that he needs an apology from the police department, and is looking for repercussions on the officers involved.
Blake, however, noted that being a celebrity, he has resources and a voice to correct the situation.
"But what about someone who doesn't have those resources and doesn't have a voice?" Blake said.
Blake last participated as a professional tennis player in the 2013 U.S. Open, where he lost in the first round of singles and doubles. He reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals over his career.
Blake is not the first celebrity to fall victim to racial profiling. Comedian Chris Rock earlier in the year posted Instagram selfies as he was pulled over by officers at least three times over seven weeks for, apparently "driving while black." Even superstar Jamie Foxx and Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington have experienced being harassed by police officers.