Jacob Blake’s father said his son awoke in a hospital bed last week, questioning why police had riddled his body with numerous bullets.
“Why did they shoot me so many times?’ Blake asked his father, CNN reported.
Blake, who was shot seven times by Kenosha Police on Aug. 23, posed the question while heavily medicated and handcuffed to his hospital bed.
“Baby, they weren’t supposed to shoot you at all,” his father, Jacob Blake Sr. told him.
Blake, 29, is partially paralyzed from the waist down. It’s unclear if the paralysis will be permanent. Blake has since been unshackled and arrants for his arrest have since been vacated, his lawyers announced Friday.
“We have learned today that the warrants for Jacob Blake were vacated, although the charges against him are still pending,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com on Monday. “Fortunately, a man who is paralyzed and fighting for his life after being shot seven times in the back, will no longer have to deal with the pain of having his ankles and wrist shackled and the traumatic stress of being under armed guard.”
Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of Kenosha Police Department, was identified last week as the white police officer responsible for firing seven rounds into Blake’s back. Sheskey, including officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, have since been placed on administrative leave. There have been no charges in Blake’s shooting.
A federal civil rights investigation into the police shooting of Blake has since been opened.
On Aug. 23, Kenosha police were dispatched to a residence on the 2800 block of 40th street after a woman caller claimed, “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, who is independently investigating the incident.
Officers, who scrambled to detain Blake, as seen in the now-viral video of the encounter, attempted to tase him, state officials said, prior to opening fire, as he attempted to enter a vehicle. Three of Blake’s children were inside the SUV at the time Sheskey pulled the trigger multiple times, his lawyers said. Police later retrieved a knife from the vehicle seen in the video.
More than a week after the police shooting, questions still lingered over the alleged blade in Blake’s possession — and whether it factored into Sheskey’s decision to fire his gun several times. The only footage available of the incident was captured by cell phones; Kenosha police do not wear body cameras.
Blake “did nothing to provoke police,” Crump, his attorney, previously told Oxygen.com in a statement.
It also remained unclear whether Kenosha responding officers were aware Blake had an open warrant for third degree sexual assault, stemming from a July incident, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
The same woman who supposedly phoned police on Aug. 23, previously alleged Blake had burglarized her home while she slept and assaulted her in the incident earlier this summer, according to the New York Times.
On Friday, however, Kenosha Professional Police Association issued a scathing statement in stark defense of the officers involved in Blake’s shooting.
“The recent officer-involved shooting in Kenosha has produced a variety of feelings and narratives; most of which are wholly inaccurate,” Matthews said in a statement. “The purely fictional depiction of events coming from those without direct knowledge of what actually occurred is incredibly harmful, and provides no benefit to anyone whatsoever, other than to perpetuate a misleading narrative.”
Brendan Matthews, an attorney for the police union, accused Blake, who they claimed was armed with a knife, of putting an officer in a headlock prior to the shooting. The attorney claimed officers were aware of an open third-degree sexual assault warrant prior to arriving on scene.
“The officers did not see the knife initially,” Matthews added. “The officers first saw him holding the knife while they were on the passenger side of the vehicle. The ‘main’ video circulating on the internet shows Mr. Blake with the knife in his left hand when he rounds the front of the car. The officers issued repeated commands for Mr. Blake to drop the knife. He did not comply.”
Matthews also stated the vehicle seen in the video didn’t belong to Blake and that police were initially called because the 29-year-old was allegedly “attempting to steal the caller’s keys/vehicle.” Kenosha Police Department had previously claimed the call was related to a “domestic disturbance.”
The police union blasted Blake’s legal team’s account of the police shooting as “fictional” and “misleading.”
The association also took aim at the preliminary version of events presented by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, describing its account as “incomplete” and “lacking.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul later stated he was unable to confirm or refute the police union’s statement.
Meanwhile, Blake’s legal team called the police union’s accusations “overblown.”
“When they say that Mr. Blake initiated the physicality (and) Mr. Blake put an officer in a headlock, that does not comport with the video from the passenger’s side of the car that shows police essentially beating him,” Patrick Salvi Jr., another of Blake’s attorneys, told CNN.
The man who recorded one of the videos showing Blake’s shooting also said it was Blake who was in a headlock — not the other way around.
“Blake was in the middle of the two male officers and they both had him in a headlock,” Raysean White also told CNN last week. “The officer who shot him was punching him in his ribs and the other officer was pulling his arm.”
White, who acknowledged he only partially witnessed the shooting, also said he didn’t see Blake in possession of a knife.
Blake’s shooting, the latest in a series of police-involved shootings of African-Americans, has triggered waves of nationwide protests, including spats of violence in Kenosha.
Kyle Rittenhouse, an alleged pro-gun militia member from Illinois, is accused of gunning down multiple people, killing two at a Black Lives Matter protest as tensions escalated in the Wisconsin city last week. The 17-year-old was later arrested and charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, among other charges, police said.
People from 44 different cities were arrested in the mayhem, which included the seizure of more than 20 firearms, authorities said. As of Sunday, nearly 200 arrests had been made in total. The city remained under curfew on Monday, according to city officials.
On Friday, thousands gathered alongside civil rights leaders and racial justice advocates to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. Speakers, including Blake’s family, urged protesters to keep demonstrations peaceful, as tensions continued to simmer for the second straight week in Kenosha.
“We will not be a footstool to oppression,” Blake’s sister, Letetra Widman, told the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, CNN reported. “Black America, I hold you accountable. You must stand. You must fight, but not with violence and chaos.”
Meanwhile, Blake, still hospitalized in Wisconsin remained in serious but stable condition, his family said.
“My son is fighting for his life,” Blake’s father added. “He’s holding on.”