Less than a week ago, Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. On Saturday, he was being pinned against a gate by a police officer after Blake tried to intervene in a dispute with officers and residents in his district. Now, the 33-year-old assemblyman who worked on President Obama’s election campaigns and in the White House, has filed an excessive force complaint for what he felt was a violation of his civil rights.
Michael Blake was born and raised in the Bronx by Jamaican born parents. He was elected to the state assembly to represent a portion of the South Bronx in 2014. Saturday afternoon he arrived at a family event at the Morris House complex when he saw one woman in handcuffs and another man and woman having a heated argument with a police officer. As Blake approached the group, he placed his hand on the shoulder of the sergeant involved to try and help diffuse the situation. That is when another officer grabbed the assemblyman in what he describes as a bear hug, lifted him off the ground away from the superior officer and “slammed” him against a gate. A police captain on patrol recognized Blake as an elected community representative and instructed the officer to let him go.
The NYPD is conducting an investigation into the confrontation. The police were at the scene responding to an argument between residents of the complex. When Blake rushed over to help calm the situation, he did not identify himself, but the assemblyman claims he did not have time to do so before the officer grabbed him.
Despite an apology by the officer involved (who claims he was protecting his partner and would take the same action again), Blake feels the incident, “was an absolute injustice.” The assemblyman understands the need to protect a fellow officer against a potential threat but feels the situation did not justify the actions of the officer. Blake added that he does not recall putting his hand on the sergeant’s shoulder, but even if he did, it was excessive force for the officer to throw him against the gate in a matter of seconds.
Michael Blake decided to go public with his complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board in order to show the community how to take action in similar situations. He says people should not remain quiet since incidents like this are, “completely inhumane and…happen every single day.” He believes the heightened response by the Hispanic officer was due to him being a black man. Blake acknowledges that if the police captain did not recognize who he was that, “this could have been a very different result.”
The issue of excessive force by police officers is under a microscope in this country now more than ever. If you or someone you love is a victim of a civil rights violation including excessive force or police brutality, you want the attorneys who know how to handle these sometimes complicated and controversial claims. Please contact the skilled and experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to stand up for you against those who have violated your constitutional rights.