On Thursday morning, an off-duty NYPD sergeant shot a man in the face in East New York, claiming the man was a stranger trying to rob him. But police sources now say the men actually knew each other, and the sergeant has been stripped of his gun and badge.
The police officer, identified in the tabloids as Ritchard Blake, 40, initially said he was confronted by a man who attempted to rob him as he was heading to the subway at Livonia Avenue around 5 a.m.
NBC New York reports that Blake told investigators the alleged mugger said something to the effect of, "You're gonna die tonight." Blake reportedly claimed the man, Thavone Santana, 21, had a gun and was trying to rob him.
Blake shot Santana in the jaw; he was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and is expected to survive. Video obtained by police reportedly "shows Santana with his hands in the air."
Santana's family says that both he and Blake were romantically involved with the same woman. Community leader Chris Banks, who spoke to the victim, told the Post, "It was a personal dispute over a female, and it’s been ongoing between him and this particular cop."
A cousin also questioned the shooting, "He had nothing to do anything with, the ambulance came, cops came and he laid out with nothing on him. Where is your evidence?"
“It wasn’t a robbery at all,” community advocate Chris Banks told the Daily News. “This is a personal dispute over a female. This an early dispute that took place at the apartment where the female lives. That’s where it began, and it continued on the street.”
"There are certain things that we saw during this investigation that we have questions that are unanswered at this point. Until we answer them, we felt it was best to place him on modified duty," NYPD Chief Terence Monahan said.
Police sources told the News that Blake was on probation with the NYPD after he was arrested in 2016 after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.