(NEW YORK) — A former New York City police officer was indicted for attempting to cover up a crime scene after shooting a man in the face, multiple sources confirmed to ABC News.
Ritchard Blake turned himself in to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office on Friday and is expected to get arraigned on two counts of tampering with physical evidence charges, sources said.
Blake, 41, is alleged to have gotten into an altercation with Thavone Santana during the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 2, 2018 and fired one shot at the man, according to police officials. The bullet struck Santana in the mouth.
It lodged in his neck, where it remains, according to a civil lawsuit Santana filed in Brooklyn federal court in January.
After the shooting, Blake allegedly told 911 he opened fired in self-defense because he was being robbed. Blake was fired from the force in August, following an internal NYPD investigation.
Based on video surveillance, the grand jury determined that the shooting was justified because the victim had his hand in his pocket and had previously motioned as if he had a weapon, sources told ABC News.
Blake is not charged in the shooting itself but in the cover-up — after police, citing the video surveillance, said he hovered over Santana and removed a knife from his own back pocket and dropped it on the ground next to Santana.
After noticed the security cameras on a lamppost, Blake “picked the knife back up and put it back into the same back…pocket,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a press release.
According to the lawsuit, Blake has a history of violence.
“Sgt. Blake has a prominent and long history of violence, assaults and was the subject of Internal Affairs investigations of his actions in 2010, 2011 and 2016 and was disciplined for his violations of NYPD Policies.”
Blake’s attorney, Abe George, previously told ABC News that his client acted in self-defense and that Santana was the aggressor.
“Mr. Blake is relieved that the grand jury has finally exonerated him with any wrongdoing related to the shooting,” said George, who said Blake did not testify in the grand jury. “We are confident when a trial jury hears Mr. Blake’s version of what happened on that night, he will be cleared of any wrongdoing pertaining to the incident.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a press release that the charges filed against Blake should be a warning to fellow officers.
“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.”
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