Authorities finally give their first version of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, three days later
After three days of silence, nightly protests, fatal shootings at a protest and a wildcat strike across the sports world, Wisconsin law enforcement officials finally offered their first version of the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake.
On Wednesday night, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation said the incident stemmed from a domestic dispute.
Officers arrived and attempted to arrest Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, and used a Taser in a failed attempt to stop him, the DCI said. Blake walked around his vehicle, “opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” the agency said.
Kenosha Officer Rusten Sheskey, who has been with the department for seven years, then fired seven times into Blake’s back, the agency said. No other officer fired their weapon.
The agency said Blake admitted he had a knife in his possession, and law enforcement agents said they recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle.
The release is the first official police version of events but still leaves gaping holes in its timeline and only the outlines of an explanation. It does not indicate why police moved to arrest Blake, whether he brandished or threatened to use the knife, or why Sheskey shot so many times into Blake’s back, and it does not mention his children in the vehicle or other family members standing just feet away.
The police version of events was released after nightly protests in Kenosha calling for police transparency and against anti-Black police violence. On Wednesday, a 17-year-old was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide for his alleged role in a shooting incident the night earlier in which two people at a protest were killed and a third was seriously injured, authorities said.
The protests extended into the sports world on Wednesday night as the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to play a playoff game, sparking wildcat strikes across basketball, baseball and soccer leagues.
On Thursday afternoon, an all-White group of local officials held a press conference to praise peaceful protesters and discuss the law enforcement response to prevent rioting in the city.
“Last night was very peaceful,” Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said. “Tuesday night — not quite so peaceful, but it wasn’t too bad. Monday night was our big night. Hopefully, we’re over that hump of what we have to face.”
After speaking, the Kenosha mayor, Kenosha County executive, Kenosha police chief, Kenosha County sheriff, and Wisconsin National Guard’s adjutant general all declined to take questions.
What the police say occurred
Sunday’s incident began when a woman called police saying “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” according to investigators.
In a police call, a dispatcher names Blake and says he “isn’t supposed to be there” and that he took the complainant’s keys and refused to leave. The dispatcher later explains she doesn’t have more details because the caller was “uncooperative.”
Police said that about five minutes after the initial report, a dispatcher received reports of shots fired.
Authorities said two officers have been placed on administrative leave. The other officers involved in the shooting will be identified soon, according to the state’s attorney general.
Police rendered aid to Blake and he was flown to a Milwaukee hospital, police said.
Videos of the incident show a struggle between Blake and police, and Blake then walks around the front of an SUV and tries to enter the driver’s side door. An officer is seen pulling Blake’s tank top and seven shots are heard.
Blake’s three children were in the vehicle at the time, attorney Ben Crump has said.
Earlier Wednesday, a family attorney told CNN that Blake did not have a weapon in the car.
“I can’t speak directly to what he owned but what I can say is that his three children were in the car,” Patrick Salvi Jr. told CNN. “That was on the forefront of his mind. That is the most important thing to him in his life — his family and his children.”
Blake remains in the hospital and his family said the shooting would likely leave him paralyzed from the waist down. Salvi said attorneys have been unable to get Blake’s side of the story given the severity of his injuries.
‘He’s a young man and he’s resilient’
Justin Blake, the uncle of the victim, told CNN on Wednesday night the family didn’t want to talk to the officer.
“We just want to make sure the supervisors, those who are in charge, understand that (Blake’s) mother and … his father just want justice,” he said. “We don’t want to talk to him. He should have to deal with the system that’s in front of him, and we need to make sure that that system works.”
A family attorney previously said Blake suffered multiple injuries in the shooting including a gunshot wound to one arm and had damage to his kidney, liver and spinal cord.
On Wednesday night, Blake’s uncle said they are hopeful he may have “a great recovery.”
“(His recovery) is going to be slow, it’s going to be progressive, but he’s a young man and he’s resilient,” Justin Blake said.
“He has every chance, as anybody else, to turn things around.”
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