ONE SHOOT­ING, TWO AC­COUNTS

Kenosha po­lice union says Ja­cob Blake was armed with a knife, but vic­tim’s fa­ther says ‘it’s a lie’

Chicago Sun-Times - - CHICAGO SUN TIMES - BY CLARE PROC­TOR, STE­FANO ES­POS­ITO AND MITCH DUDEK,

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.

SCREEN­SHOT COUR­TESY OF NBC5 CHICAGO

In this im­age taken from cell­phone video, Kenosha Po­lice Of­fi­cer Rusten Sh­eskey raises his gun af­ter grab­bing Ja­cob Blake by the shirt on Sun­day.

ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

Neigh­bors, who asked not to be named, con­gre­gate Monday on the block where Kenosha po­lice shot Ja­cob Blake the day be­fore.

Ja­cob Blake

BREN­DAN GUTENSCHWA­GER VIA STORYFUL; AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

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.

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