FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 22, 2019
Former NYPD Sergeant Indicted for Tampering with Evidence
At Scene Where He Shot and Wounded Another Man
Defendant Allegedly Planted Knife at Scene of Off-Duty Shooting, Then Retrieved It
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that a former New York City Police Sergeant has been indicted for tampering with evidence for allegedly planting a knife at the scene of a shooting and then retrieving the knife, according to surveillance video.
District Attorney Gonzalez 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. 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.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “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.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Ritchard Blake, 40, who was assigned to the 109th Precinct in Flushing, Queens at the time of the incident. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Shillingford on an indictment in which he is charged with two counts of tampering with physical evidence. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 17, 2019. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
The District Attorney said that on August 2, 2018, at approximately 5 a.m., in front of 650 Livonia Avenue, in East New York, Brooklyn, the defendant was captured on video surveillance being followed by Thavone Santana, with whom he had a verbal dispute hours earlier, according to the investigation.
The publicly-available surveillance video captures the two men addressing each other after Santana approached the defendant from behind with his left hand inside his left shorts pocket. The video surveillance shows that when Santana – who had his left hand in his pocket throughout the entire interaction – advanced towards the defendant, the defendant, while backing away, fired one shot, striking Santana in the mouth. The defendant was then captured on video surveillance searching Santana’s left shorts pocket. No weapon was found in his pocket, but police later recovered a razor blade on the ground next to Santana, according to the investigation.
Immediately thereafter, the defendant is captured on video surveillance removing a knife from his own back pants pocket and dropping it on the ground next to Santana. Within seconds, after looking up at a surveillance camera, the defendant picked the knife back up and put it back into the same back pants pocket.
The case was investigated by the NYPD’s Force Investigations Division, under the supervision of Sergeant Emanuel Vizzotti.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick O’Connor, Chief of the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau, under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis, Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division, and the overall supervision of Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.