New York City police union chief Patrick Lynch said Tuesday it’s “irresponsible, unjust and un-American” to criticize cops for wrongfully slamming retired tennis star James Blake to the ground outside his Manhattan hotel.
In a scathing open letter addressed to “all arm-chair judges,” Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, tears into public condemnation of Officer James Frascatore’s tackling of Blake, who was mistaken for a suspect in an identify theft ring. The former tennis great was arrested, handcuffed and detained for about 15 minutes before police realized their error last week.
“If you have never struggled with someone who is resisting arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good,” Lynch begins.
The arrest of Blake, which prompted apologies from Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton, was caught on security footage.
Lynch has no apologies in his letter, just venom, for anyone who would cast judgment on the situation before a full investigation is completed.
“It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video,” Lynch writes. “That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American.”
The union chief says no one should jump to “uninformed conclusions” based on the video.
“Police officers have earned the benefit of the doubt because of the dangers we routinely face,” Lynch says.
Frascatore has a history of force complaints and has been subject of much criticism since the arrest video surfaced. He has since been placed on modified duty, something Lynch criticized earlier as “premature and unwarranted.”
Blake has said that race “probably” played a role in the incident. He also criticized the arrest as a case of police using an unnecessary amount of force.
“No matter what,” Blake said, “there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody.”
Bratton has categorically denied that race was a factor.