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. “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. A family attorney said Blake’s three children were in the car.
His uncle’s fiery response came after the union representing the officer released what they called the “actual and undisputed” facts of what led to the shooting — details they say even state investigators omitted or left incomplete.
Family attorney says Blake never posed ‘imminent threat’
In a Friday statement, the Kenosha Professional Police Association say police attempted to Tase Blake and when that failed, Blake then forcefully fought with the officers and put one of them in a headlock.
“Our family is not going to get into weeds on some garbage,” Blake’s uncle said of the headlock accusation.
The police union claimed Blake was armed with a knife. State investigators have said Blake had a knife in his possession which was later found on the driver’s side floorboard of his vehicle.
But the man 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.
That claim was echoed by Raysean White, who recorded the video that later circulated online capturing Blake’s shooting. White said he saw officers had Blake in a headlock while one was “punching him in his robs.”
“Jacob did not pose any threat to those officers. He didn’t swing at them, he didn’t push them, he didn’t do none of that,” White told CNN.
Blake’s family says nothing he did can justify the seven close-range shots. Blake has since been in the hospital — where his family says he was handcuffed to his bed until Friday — and is paralyzed from the waist down.
Blake is no longer in handcuffs
Blake’s handcuffs have been removed and a criminal complaint authorities used to explain the restriction has been vacated, 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 he “has felony warrants for his arrest from crimes he committed prior to the shooting incident.”
“Anyone with this classification level that we are guarding in the hospital would be treated in this manner,” Wright said.
“There is no explanation for it,” Blake family attorney Benjamin Crump said. “It follows the pattern of deliberate indifference and excessive force.”
Investigators have not released many details
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), which is leading the investigation into the shooting, has not released many details in the days since the incident.
It has not indicated 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. It does not mention his children in the vehicle or other family.
At the time of Sunday’s encounter, Blake had a warrant out for his arrest in connection to a domestic abuse call earlier this year. The charges remain pending, his attorneys said.
A dispatcher appeared to warn responding 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.
But it’s unclear if those officers knew about the outstanding warrant against Blake when they arrived on scene. The police union claimed officers were aware of the warrant.
“If he had outstanding warrants… then they should have arrested him,” Blake’s uncle said, “not shot him in the damn back seven times.”
Blake was 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 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.
According to DCI, when officers arrived at the residence they attempted to arrest Blake and Sheskey used a Taser to try and stop him, DCI said. When that failed, Officer Vincent Arenas, used his Taser as well, but that was also unsuccessful in stopping Blake, according to DCI. Blake walked around his vehicle, “opened the driver’s side door and leaned forward,” the agency said, and was then shot by Sheskey.
Brittany Meronek was the third officer present, DCI said. Meronek has been with the department since January, while Arenas joined in February 2019. Sheskey has been with Kenosha police for seven years, DCI said.
CNN’s Raja Razek, Karen Smith, Gisela Crespo, Scott Glover, Sara Sidner, Julia Jones and Brad Parks contributed to this report.