EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn — A former NYPD sergeant has been indicted for allegedly planting evidence at the scene, then removing it, after he shot a Brooklyn man last year, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said Friday.
Sgt. Ritchard Blake was off duty when he shot 21-year-old Thavone Santana in the mouth on Aug. 2, 2018, in East New York, according to police.
The now-fired NYPD sergeant initially claimed Santana attempted to rob him. Police later said that the incident was not an attempted robbery, but a dispute, and immediately placed Blake on modified duty.
Blake was arraigned Friday and indicted on two counts of tampering with physical evidence.
Surveillance video from the night of the shooting shows the two men addressing each other after Santana approached the defendant from behind with his left hand inside the left pocket of his shorts.
The footage shows that when Santana — who kept his hand in the pocket throughout the entire interaction – advanced toward Blake, Blake backed away and fired one shot, striking Santana in the mouth.
Blake is then seen searching Santana’s left pocket. Immediately after, officials say Blake is captured on the footage removing a knife from his own back pocket and dropping it on the ground next to Santana. After looking up at a surveillance camera, Blake picked the knife back up and put it back into the same back pocket.
No weapon was found in Santana’s pocket, but police later recovered a razor blade on the ground next to Santana, according to the investigation.
“This is a shocking offense, especially given the defendant’s obligations as a police officer, and we intend to hold him accountable for his alleged conduct,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Friday.
Ritchard Blake surrendered to police earlier Friday, according to sources at the Brooklyn DA’s office.
The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 17. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
After the indictment, Blake’s attorney Abe George said, “Mr. Blake is relieved that the grand jury has finally exonerated him with any wrongdoing related to the shooting of Mr. Santana. The grand jury returned an indictment to alleged acts of tampering which occurred after the incident primarily because they didn’t hear from Sgt. Blake. We are confident when a trial jury hears Sgt. Blake’s version of what happened on that night, he will be cleared of any wrongdoing pertaining to the incident.”
The NYPD fired Blake after protesters marched in East New York and Santana’s mother, Arrie Spencer, demanded justice.
“By swiftly moving to terminate former Sgt. Ritchard Blake in August of 2018, the department sends a clear and unambiguous message that criminal conduct will not be tolerated within the ranks of the NYPD,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Friday after Blake’s indictment.