The police officer who tackled a retired tennis star in an apparent case of mistaken identity this week was the subject of a WNYC investigation last year that revealed a history of civilian complaints.
Police Officer James Frascatore was the plainclothes cop who body-slammed former tennis-pro James Blake on Wednesday, a law-enforcement official confirmed for WNYC.
Frascatore was part of a plainclothes unit investigating credit-card fraud and identity theft when he mistakenly went after Blake, who bears a striking resemblance to a suspected fraudster.
In December, WNYC reported that Frascatore was named in five civilian complaints during one seven-month period in 2013.
The story, part of a series on police misconduct and discipline, included a recording of Frascatore and other officers arresting a mother in front of her crying children because she wasn't quick enough to hand over a bike they wanted as evidence.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board said Frascatore made false statements under oath in that case, and referred the matter to the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, records show. The NYPD declined to comment for that story.
Wednesday’s incident shows Frascatore was still on the street. Police Commissioner William Bratton moved quickly to place Frascatore on modified duty and issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident,” Bratton said in the statement. “Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues. Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”
The mayor also apologized to Blake.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch issued a statement questioning the decision to put Frascatore behind a desk.
“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," Lynch said. "No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts.”
The union declined an interview request and its law firm — which represented Frascatore in front of the CCRB — did not respond to a request for comment. Frascatore could not immediately be reached for comment.
Click here to listen to the original WNYC investigation, part of our award-winning series "NYPD Bruised."