Justin Blake says his nephew didn’t have a weapon and “didn’t deserve to be shot seven times in his back.”
“We’re not going to allow them to come back a week later and talk about some type of weapon being involved after they temporarily paralyzed my nephew,” Blake said Friday. “As his uncle, that’s insulting.”
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot while leaning into his vehicle by a White Kenosha officer on August 23. A family attorney said Blake’s three children were in the car.
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Family attorney says Blake never posed ‘imminent threat’
“Mr. Blake was not unarmed. He was armed with a knife,” the union wrote.
Authorities have said Officer Rusten Sheskey eventually shot Blake while Blake was trying to enter and leaning into a vehicle.
State investigators previously have said Blake admitted he had a knife in his possession, and law enforcement agents recovered one from the driver’s side floorboard of his vehicle.
The union also echoed what state investigators have said: That two officers fired a Taser at Blake in the initial struggle, but the Taser didn’t incapacitate him.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said Friday that the police union’s version of events was made public by an attorney representing the union and “certain officers involved in the incident” and he would not confirm or deny the union’s allegations.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice is conducting a fair, impartial, and independent investigation into the shooting of Jacob S. Blake,” Kaul said in a statement.
Blake’s uncle, when asked about the union’s accusation about the headlock, said Friday: “Our family is not going to get into weeds on some garbage.”
Blake never posed an “imminent threat” to the officers on scene, a family attorney said.
“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. told CNN.
White said he saw officers had Blake in a headlock while one was “punching him in his ribs.”
Blake’s family says nothing he did can justify the seven close-range shots. Blake has since been in a hospital, where his family says he was handcuffed to his bed until Friday. He is paralyzed from the waist down, the family says.
The initial call to police, and a previous warrant for Blake’s arrest
In a police call, a dispatcher relayed that the complainant accused Blake of taking the complainant’s keys and refusing to leave. The dispatcher later explains she doesn’t have more details because the caller was “uncooperative.”
At the time, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest in connection with earlier allegations that he unlawfully entered a home and committed felony sexual assault this year.
The dispatcher appeared to warn officers about Blake’s warrant, referring to “family trouble” at the residence in Kenosha and an “alert at this address for a ninety-nine.” The police code 10-99 can refer to a wanted suspect.
It’s unclear whether those officers knew about why there was an outstanding warrant against Blake when they arrived at the residence. The police union claimed that officers were aware of the warrant.
“If he had outstanding warrants… then they should have arrested him,” Blake’s uncle said Friday, “not shot him in the damn back seven times.”
The police union said Friday that Blake was not breaking up a fight at the time officers arrived. One of Blake’s attorneys had said previously
What investigators and the police union are saying about the shooting
The DCI has said three officers initially tried to arrest Blake upon arriving, and that both Sheskey and Officer Vincent Arenas deployed Tasers.
The police union said the officers used the Tasers only after Blake refused to cooperate when they arrived, disregarded commands, and then resisted officers’ physical attempts to control him.
Both attempts to stop Blake with Tasers failed, the DCI said.
The police union said Friday that the officers didn’t initially see the knife, but eventually did see him holding it while they were on the SUV’s passenger side.
While the DCI has said that law enforcement agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle, it has not indicated whether Blake brandished or threatened to use the knife, or why Sheskey shot Blake so many times. Its account has not mentioned his children in the vehicle.
The union also said the SUV was not Blake’s vehicle. It wasn’t immediately clear whose vehicle it was.
Sheskey has been with the department for seven years. No other officer fired their gun. Sheskey and another officer have been placed on administrative leave.
Previous charges against Blake are ‘still pending,’ though he is no longer in handcuffs
Blake’s handcuffs have been removed and the criminal warrant authorities used to explain the restriction has been vacated, “although the charges against him are still pending,” Blake’s attorneys said.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. David Wright said Blake was handcuffed to the bed because the previous felony warrant had been active, and “anyone with this classification level that we are guarding in the hospital would be treated in this manner.”
Blake had been accused of unlawfully entering a home on May 3 and sexually assaulting a woman in her bedroom before leaving with her vehicle, according to the criminal complaint obtained by CNN. She also waived a temporary restraining order against Blake.
CNN does not typically identify sexual assault victims.
The criminal complaint filed on July 6 listed charges of felony third-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct. The arrest warrant against Blake was filed the following day.
In response to authorities’ explanation about the shackles at the hospital, Blake’s uncle told CNN: “It shows how little class and compassion the sheriff has.”
CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Ray Sanchez, Dakin Andone, Jason Hanna, Raja Razek, Karen Smith, Gisela Crespo, Scott Glover, Sara Sidner, Julia Jones and Brad Parks contributed to this report.