When the New York City police officer who tackled former tennis star James Blake steps into an internal trial room this week, Blake will have waited more than 700 days to see the officer answer for his actions since a civilian oversight board found that he used excessive force. Blake, who was misidentified as a suspect in a credit card fraud ring, has canceled three plane tickets to New York because of trial delays and watched a plea deal he saw as soft fall apart for reasons that remain mysterious After the trial, Blake likely will wait for months for the police commissioner to hand down a final ruling on the officer’s guilt and possible punishment. Details of the punishment could remain a secret, the New York Times reports.
The byzantine process is the easiest path to holding an officer accountable for many victims of police misconduct. Data obtained by the Times shows just how long it takes for the Police Department to decide on an allegation that the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) has substantiated. Among the 43 trial cases that concluded this year, complainants waited an average of 15 months for prosecutors and defense lawyers to rest their cases at trial. After that, they waited another or seven months for a departmental judge to issue a ruling and for the police commissioner to decide whether to uphold the verdict. The wait has stretched out under the current police commissioner, James O’Neill. Said Blake of his delayed case: “I respect what the CCRB. is credited with trying to do. Right now, it doesn’t seem like they’re actually accomplishing the mission.”