Former NYPD Sergeant Indicted For Tampering With Evidence After Shooting Man In The Face

The surveillance video shows Ritchard Blake and Thavone Santana talking before the shooting
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The surveillance video shows Ritchard Blake and Thavone Santana talking before the shooting Screenshot from NBC New York

A former New York City police sergeant was indicted in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday for allegedly planting a knife at at the scene where he shot a man in the face, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office says.

Ex-cop Ritchard Blake, 40, was off-duty when he shot Thavone Santana, 22, in the face when he was off-duty on August 2nd, 2018. Security camera video subsequently showed Blake having a conversation with Santana before shooting him. In the video, Blake can be seen taking a knife from his pocket, then dropping it next to Santana's body. Apparently noticing the security camera, Blake then picked up the knife again.

Originally, Blake claimed that Santana had tried to rob him during the early morning standoff, but the investigation proved that wasn't the case. It turns out that Blake and Santana had spoken before, and were possibly involved in a love triangle with one Debbie Lima. The two had a verbal altercation several hours before the shooting on Livonia Avenue, according to the District Attorney's office.

In a lawsuit filed in January, Santana states that he and Blake live in the same neighborhood, and the former sergeant "attempted to murder him." In the suit, he states that the dispute stemmed from Lima borrowing Santana's phone charger (he says he was at a friend's house across the hall playing video games). Santana apparently came to get his charger hours later, at 4 a.m., when Blake answered the door. He "began cursing and screaming" at Thavone, who "smelled a strong odor of alcohol" coming from Blake. The suit goes on to say that Santana went out to the convenience store to get another charger, and Blake, following him, began "shouting at [him] to stay away from his girl, Debbie."

Blake had his badge and gun stripped of him following the shooting, and was fired later in August.

“The entirety of the evidence in this case was presented to a grand jury, which considered all of the defendant’s actions and returned an indictment charging him with tampering with evidence," said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a Friday press release. "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.”

Blake is charged with two counts of tampering with physical evidence, and was released without bail. If he's convicted, he could spend up to four years in prison.

Santana survived the incident, but his jaw has been wired shut since, and one of the bullets remains lodged in his spine, ABC7 reports.

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