By David Brand
A former Flushing NYPD sergeant was indicted in Brooklyn Supreme Court Friday on two counts of tampering with physical evidence after he allegedly planted a knife next to the body of an unarmed man who he shot in the face.
Ritchard Blake of the 109th Precinct was walking through East New York at about 5 a.m. on Aug. 2 when a man he had argued with earlier in the night confronted him, prosecutors said.
Surveillance video captured the confrontation and shows the man, Thavone Santana, approaching Blake with his hand in his pocket.
Blake, 40, stepped backward and shot Santana in the mouth. Surveillance footage next shows Blake searching Santana’s pocket before pulling a knife from his own pocket and placing it next to Santana, prosecutors said.
After Blake dropped the knife on the ground, he looked up, noticed a surveillance camera and picked up the knife, prosecutors said.
“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 Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “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.”
Santana survived the shooting, but his jaw is wired shut. He testified against Blake before a grand jury earlier this month, ABC News reported.
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said Blake was fired from the police force following the incident.
“By swiftly moving to terminate former Sergeant 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,” O’Neill said.
Blake was not charged with any crimes related to the shooting.
He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 17.
If convicted, he faces up to four years.