New York-based Assemblyman Michael Blake has officially filed a complaint against the NYPD.
The New York Times reports that the member of the legislative assembly says he was roughly handled by an officer after inquiring about police activity in the district. The paper reports that Mr. Blake said the incident occurred while he was attending a family event at the Gouverneur Morris Houses at East 169th Street and Washington Avenue when he saw a woman in handcuffs and approached the officers to discuss the situation.
In a phone interview Sunday with the Times, Blake said that as he rushed toward the confrontation, a uniformed officer bear-hugged him, lifted him off the ground and “slammed” him against a gate.
“It was not a pleasant interaction,” the 33-year-old said.
Mr. Blake is a freshman Democrat who represents part of South Bronx.
The Police Department did confirm that a sergeant and an officer responded to an argument between neighbors shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, the day the altercation allegedly took place. According to officials, Mr. Blake approached the officers without identifying himself and grabbed his shoulder. A police spokeswoman said the officer, perceiving “a possible threat to the sergeant,” moved him away.
A statement issued Sunday in response to the incident said the department “has been made aware of Mr. Blake’s allegations and will be conducting a review of the incident.”
Mr. Blake said he didn’t have time to identify himself as an elected official before he was grabbed. He did confirm that more senior officers intervene and told the officer to let him go. The officer released him and was encouraged to apologize, according to the assemblyman.
Mr. Blake said that while the officer apologized, it didn’t seem sincere. The assemblyman said the officer claimed to be in “a protective mode” over his partner. He says the officer added that “if the situation presented itself, he would do the same thing again.”
Mr. Blake filed a formal notice Saturday evening with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. He claimed excessive force, something he felt may have been related to his race.
“I can appreciate from the officer’s perspective that if they perceive someone is a threat to their fellow officer, regardless of race, they would act out in some way,” Mr. Blake said. “But I do believe that the level of response was far heightened because I’m a Black man — no question.”
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