Don Lemon: James Blake's righteous victory

James Blake speaks out
James Blake interview Lemon CTN _00033025


    James Blake speaks out


James Blake speaks out 05:18

Story highlights

  • Don Lemon: Retired tennis star James Blake was victim of excessive police force
  • Lemon says Blake was smart enough to use every resource at his disposal to fight for change

Don Lemon anchors "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon" during weekday prime-time and serves as a correspondent across CNN/U.S. programming. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)By now most of you have seen the surveillance video of retired tennis star James Blake being thrown to the ground, handcuffed and apprehended by a plainclothes New York police officer outside his hotel in the middle of busy Times Square in broad daylight.

It happened September 9.
Don Lemon
If you haven't seen it, go check it out on
    As it turns out, it was a case of mistaken identity for a suspect wanted in an identity fraud case.
    Many times in these cases we see the officer or officers get away without being disciplined, saying they only followed department procedure or that they had to use such force for fear of their own life or well-being.
    But not this time!
    The New York Times reports that in a letter sent to Blake's lawyer on Tuesday, New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates police misconduct, has found that Officer James Frascatore used excessive force when he subdued Blake.
    The New York Times also reports, "The officer who tackled Mr. Blake, James Frascatore, has a history of excessive-force complaints, though he was also active during his four years on the force, with more than 150 arrests. He has not yet completed the three-day retraining course that the department recently put into effect to improve how officers relate to residents."
    After initially reviewing the surveillance video, Police Commissioner William Bratton placed Frascatore on modified assignment and both the commissioner and Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly apologized to Blake.
    Blake then met with Bratton and de Blasio and said he was happy with the outcome of that meeting.
    Bratton also praised Blake for the way he handled the entire situation from the take-down to their meetings to the way Blake handled himself in the press.
    Blake did not fight back.
    He complied and luckily stayed alive to live and fight another day.
    He did not make sweeping accusations about the officer or the entire department.
    He was smart enough to use every resource at his disposal to bring about what could be the most meaningful change in recent history concerning the use of force in the NYPD.
    He told me and everyone who would listen that he never wanted this to be about him, nor about race or any one limited issue; instead he wanted to focus on the broader issue of excessive force on all citizens, and accountability in the department.
    However, when I spoke to Blake just a few days after the incident, he had some stern words he wanted Frascatore to hear directly from him.
    It looks like the complaint review board agrees with James Blake.
    It has recommended the stiffest punishment allowed: suspension or dismissal.
    The rest is up to the department.
    But I must say, well done James Blake!