The off-duty NYPD sergeant who shot a Brooklyn man in the face last week during a reported dispute over a woman has a history of violent acts, according to department disciplinary records.
Sgt. Ritchard Blake was found guilty in 2011 of departmental charges that he “engaged in a physical altercation” and lost 15 vacation days, according to secret NYPD disciplinary files previously obtained by BuzzFeed News. The records don’t reveal anything additional about the incident. The NYPD did not respond to a request to provide more detail.
Earlier this year, the New York Daily News reported, based on NYPD disciplinary records, that Blake was also suspended for 36 days and was placed on probation in September 2017 after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife 11 months earlier. At the time of the shooting last week, Blake would have still been on probation.
The NYPD has a fraught history of disciplining officers who have repeatedly misused force. Earlier this year, a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed that during a roughly four-year period, the department allowed at least 300 employees to commit fireable offenses but keep their jobs, including officers whom the NYPD found guilty of violence against New Yorkers.
After BuzzFeed News published its investigation, the NYPD announced that a three-person independent panel will conduct a four-month review of its process for disciplining officers. Their report is scheduled to be released this fall.
Last week’s shooting occurred after Blake encountered 21-year-old Thavone Santana on a sidewalk in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood.
Surveillance video, first published by NBC New York, shows Blake appearing to place a knife on the ground next to Santana after he was shot. Moments later, Blake picked the knife up.
On Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill was asked during an interview with a local television program if he believed that Blake was attempting to plant evidence on Santana. “That’s what it looks like,” O’Neill said. “But there’s an investigation that needs to be done to determine that.”
“It’s extremely disturbing,” O’Neill added.
Hours after the incident, the NYPD stripped Blake of his gun and badge and placed him on modified duty. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is reviewing the case and deciding whether to bring criminal charges against Blake. Santana’s family is calling for Blake to be fired.
Multiple attempts to reach Blake by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful. The Sergeants Benevolent Association, the union that represents Blake, did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
Santana remains hospitalized in Brooklyn where he is reportedly recovering from the shooting.