Former pro tennis star James Blake, unlike Eric Garner, survived his run-in with an overaggressive city cop.
Blake was joined Thursday by the NYPD chokehold victim’s mother as the pair testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the need for federal legislation to combat excessive force incidents against people of color.
“I think about my encounter with the NYPD ... and think about those who weren’t so lucky,” said Blake, 39, at the Washington hearing. “Eric Garner was put in a chokehold by an officer, a chokehold that was banned decades earlier, and was still used and led to his death.”
The biracial Blake was standing outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on E. 42nd St when a plainclothes police officer tackled him to the sidewalk, twisting the athlete’s left arm and putting him in handcuffs. The “arrest” turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, and the white officer’s NYPD-imposed penalty was a mere five days of lost vacation time.
“I didn’t want preferential treatment,” testified Blake, once the No. 4-ranked tennis player in the world." "I wanted justice and what was best for the city. "
Blake was preceded at the hearing by Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, who waited five years before learning the NYPD officer involved in her son’s death would face no criminal charges.
“I come before you today not only to share my son’s story or the long quest of justice that we’ve been seeking for five years,” said Carr. “I urge you to take immediate action to impose the national changes and standards (for) policing.”
Carr, the first witness to testify at the Capitol Hill hearing, recalled her parting 10-minute chat with son Eric shortly before his July 17, 2014, death on a Staten Island sidewalk.
“He said, ‘I love you Mom,’” she said. “I said, ‘I love you too, Eric,' never knowing this would be our last and final conversation. My entire life was uprooted on that July day."