KENOSHA, Wis. — Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by a white police officer here on Sunday, is no longer in police custody or shackled to his hospital bed, his lawyer said Friday.
The lawyer, Patrick Salvi Jr., said that after communicating with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, Blake’s legal team was able to have an outstanding warrant against him vacated. The warrant was from an incident in July, Salvi said.
One of Blake’s feet had been shackled to the bed since at least Wednesday per sheriff department policy, Salvi said. Blake is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting, according to his lawyer and his father, also named Jacob Blake.
Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said at a news conference Friday that the warrant was related to an alleged sexual assault. The sheriff’s department did not respond to a request for further comment on Blake’s shackling and removal. A lawyer for the family, Benjamin Crump, said Friday that charges are still pending and “should never have happened.”
Salvi told NBC News that Blake “did not commit the offenses that he was accused of.” The lawyer also said that doctors have told Blake’s family that the pain he is experiencing, like his paralysis, will be long term.
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“The injury that he sustained — not only a traumatic spinal cord injury which creates just unbearable nerve-related pain — he also had five or six other bullets into his body other than the two that made contact with his spine,” Salvi said.
“So between his abdominal injury, his arm injury and his spine, he can barely move a millimeter without being in excruciating pain,” he said.
Blake may have been shot eight times, not seven as authorities have said, according to Salvi. The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, did not respond to a request for comment.
The department had previously reported that one officer, Rusten Sheskey, had fired a Taser in a failed attempt to stop Blake, but on Friday it said in a press release that Officer Vincent Arenas discharged his Taser before Sheskey shot Blake seven times in the back. A third officer, Brittany Meronek was also present, the department said. All three officers have been placed on administrative leave.
Sheskey is a seven-year veteran of the department, and Arenas joined in February 2019 and Meronek in January.
The shooting incident began Sunday when officers were called to a home in Kenosha, about 40 miles southeast of Milwaukee, after a woman reported that her boyfriend was at the home when he wasn’t supposed to be. Police have not responded to multiple inquiries on whether Blake was the subject of the woman’s complaint.
The state DOJ said in its press release that Blake “admitted that he had a knife in his possession” and that investigators recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of his car after the shooting.
Blake’s lawyer called that into question Friday. He said Blake is heavily sedated and the hospital, like others around the country, is restricting visitors to one person a day because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of Blake’s family members have not seen him because of this policy. His mother spent Monday with him, he was in surgery nearly all day Tuesday and was visited by his father on Wednesday, Salvi said.
On Thursday, Salvi visited Blake twice. He said he does not know when police would have had an opportunity to speak with Blake since the shooting.
No other weapons were found in the vehicle, the state DOJ said. It is not clear whether Blake was carrying the knife at the time he was shot. The shooting was captured on cellphone video and widely shared on social media, sparking protests in Kenosha and elsewhere in the country.
“It’s important to remember that these are charges at this time, these are allegations,” Salvi said. “There’s been no conviction. Powerful white men have been accused of crimes and given the benefit of the doubt from the same folks leaping to conclusions and vilifying this young Black man.”
Janell Ross reported from Kenosha, and Janelle Griffith from New York.