NEW YORK — The officer whose rough, mistaken arrest of former tennis star James Blake prompted apologies from New York City’s mayor and police commissioner has a history of excessive-force allegations, records show.
Officer James Frascatore was the subject of five civilian complaints in a seven-month period of 2013, according to radio’s WNYC, and he has been named in two federal civil rights lawsuits as being among a group of officers accused of beating, pepper spraying and falsely arresting two Queens men in separate incidents that year.
Two law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that Frascatore, who has four years on the force, was the officer who arrested Blake. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the case.
“Some of the information from his personnel file is in the media this morning,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said on WNYW-TV’s “Good Day New York.” “Part of our investigation will be looking at his … history.”
Bratton said investigators reviewing Frascatore’s disciplinary record would do so “understanding that some of those issues were exonerated.” He didn’t elaborate.
Frascatore has been placed on desk duty.
A number listed for Frascatore, 38, wasn’t in service Friday, and a spokesman for his union declined to comment on the claims.
On Thursday, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement that there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment before an internal investigation is complete.
“No police officer should ever face punitive action before a complete review of the facts,” Lynch said.
The five complaints against Frascatore to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates claims of police misconduct, are more than average for an officer. Three-fourths of the department has two or fewer complaints against them, according to the board’s data.
In one of the federal lawsuits, Warren Diggs claims Frascatore and other officers arrested him in the driveway of his home in January 2013 as he attempted to go inside to get his ID, hitting him on the head so hard that he fell down and then pepper spraying him, court papers show. City lawyers are reviewing that case, a spokesman for the law department said.
Four months later, Stefon Luckey claims that Frascatore was among a group of officers who punched him, pepper sprayed him and hurled racial epithets at him outside a Queens deli, the lawsuit said.
Luckey’s lawyer, Philip Hines, said his client texted him after Frascatore’s name became public: “Everything done in the dark eventually comes to light.”
Lawyers for the city “are in the early stages of litigation” in that case, law department spokesman Nick Paolucci said.
Blake was arrested outside a midtown Manhattan hotel after he was misidentified as being involved in a fraudulent credit card scheme that was using the hotel for deliveries, police have said. Bratton said video of the arrest raises some concerns and that internal affairs detectives are probing the case.
The 38-year-old Blake said he was about to leave for the US Open when a plainclothes officer charged at him, took him down and put him in handcuffs — all without identifying himself.
“I’d like an explanation for how they conducted themselves because I think we all need to be held accountable for our actions, and police as well,” Blake said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday.
Blake, who had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world and reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, retired after the 2013 US Open.
He won 10 singles titles, most recently in 2007. Twice he reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, a hometown tournament that seemed to bring out his best play.