ONE SHOOTING, TWO ACCOUNTS
Kenosha police union says Jacob Blake was armed with a knife, but victim’s father says ‘it’s a lie’
The most detailed account yet of the shooting of Jacob Blake was released Friday by the Kenosha police union — a version of events that says Blake had a knife, fought with officers and shrugged off two attempts to stun him.
Meanwhile, the Illinois teen accused of fatally shooting two protesters and wounding another appeared in a Lake County courtroom, and Kenosha’s police chief defended his officers’ decision not to apprehend 17-yearold Kyle Rittenhouse after the shooting even as witnesses nearby pointed him out.
The union’s version of events was issued by Brendan Matthews, attorney for the Kenosha Professional Police Association. Matthews’ statement goes into more detail than anything released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which continues to investigate.
Blake’s shooting sparked protests and looting in Kenosha.
Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, has been left paralyzed from the waist down, his family said. But he is no longer handcuffed to his Milwaukee hospital bed, and law-enforcement officers had been removed from that room by Friday, Blake’s attorney said.
“Obviously, it’s going to be easier on him and his medical personnel and family now that it’s been addressed,” said Patrick Cafferty, Blake’s attorney.
At this point, he added, Blake faces no charges relating to Sunday’s events.
In July, Blake was charged with a felony crime, as well as disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors, Wisconsin court records show. The warrant for Blake’s arrest was issued the next day.
Officers were aware of the felony warrant before arriving on the scene Sunday, Matthews said, adding that officers were dispatched because of a complaint that Blake was trying to steal the caller’s keys and vehicle.
Cellphone video shows Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and another officer following Blake, guns drawn, as he walks around the front of a parked SUV.
Matthews said “officers first saw him holding the knife while they were on the passenger side of the vehicle.”
Asked about the union statement, Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times:
“I don’t care what the union did,” he said. “One of their guys put seven [bullets] in my son.”
As for the allegation that Blake was holding a knife, the father, also named Jacob Blake, responded: “I don’t even have comment on that.
It’s a lie. I don’t need to justify that with an answer . ... Ask them where they found the knife.”
The bystander who recorded the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands. State investigators have said only that officers saw a knife on the floor of the car.
No other weapons were found, according to those investigators.
Matthews said officers asked Blake to drop the knife multiple times, but he didn’t. He said officers used a Taser on Blake — twice — but it did not incapacitate him.
That’s when “the officers drew their firearms,” Matthews said. “Mr. Blake continued to ignore the officers’ commands, even with the threat of lethal force now present.”
As Blake opened the driver’s door of the SUV, Sheskey pulled on Blake’s shirt and then fired. Three of Blake’s children were in the back seat.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had no immediate comment on the union’s version of events. The department has identified the other two officers on the scene as Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek.
Arenas joined the Kenosha Police Department in February 2019; Meronek joined in January of this year.
Extradition hearing set for teen accused of killing two protesters
In Illinois Friday, a Lake County judge postponed until Sept. 25 an extradition hearing for Rittenhouse so his family can use a private attorney.
Rittenhouse has hired John Pierce, managing partner and founder of Pierce Bain
bridge, a firm that has represented former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Reuters reported. In a tweet, Pierce said he plans to bring in a “SEAL Team” of former assistant U.S. attorneys.
Prosecutors on Thursday charged Rittenhouse with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless endangerment.
Killed were Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, and Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, about 15 miles west of the city. Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, about 30 miles northwest of Kenosha, was injured.
Due to concerns about the coronavirus, the public and media were not allowed in the hearing at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan.
Videos posted on social media show Rittenhouse roaming the streets of Kenosha on Tuesday armed with a rifle.
Some footage shows a shooter being chased into a car lot by someone before shots are heard and the pursuer lies dead. The shooter then runs down the street. Several people give chase, shouting that he just shot someone.
The runner stumbles, hits the ground and fires as several people run toward him, killing another man and injuring a third.
Rittenhouse’s attorney Lin Wood said Thursday the teenager was acting in selfdefense.
Later Friday, Kenosha police Chief Daniel Miskinis tried to rationalize why his officers did not arrest Rittenhouse.
Other cellphone videos show Rittenhouse walking toward police after the shooting, carrying a rifle, hands up, as if to surrender — as people nearby shout to officers that he was the shooter.
Officers did not stop him, and Rittenhouse kept walking, eventually returning home to Antioch, where he later turned himself in.
“There were a lot of people in the area, a lot of people with weapons, and unfortunately, a lot of gunfire,” Miskinis said during a news conference in Kenosha.
Officers “see somebody walking toward them with his hands up. That, too, isn’t out of the ordinary given all the events going on,” Miskinis said, noting that he’d seen the same thing in recent days.
“We have armed individuals out protesting, or counter-protesting, or simply walking around exercising their right, who will put their hands up. It might have been abnormal two weeks ago. It’s no longer abnormal. So there was nothing to suggest this individual was involved in any criminal behavior,” he said.
Also at the Friday news conference, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said he has no plans to ask Miskinis to resign, as some groups have demanded.
“Everyone is doing the best they can with the situation they have,” he said.
In this image taken from cellphone video, Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey raises his gun after grabbing Jacob Blake by the shirt on Sunday.
Neighbors, who asked not to be named, congregate Monday on the block where Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake the day before.
Kenosha police Chief Daniel Miskinis (left) says his officers did nothing wrong when they let Kyle Rittenhouse (above, at right) leave the scene of Tuesday night’s shootings. Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting two demonstrators and wounding a third.