Jacob Blake had a knife in his car when he was shot by a police officer seven times in the back, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Three days after the police shooting set off unrest in Kenosha and several other cities, state authorities have revealed some of the first details about what led up to it.
Kenosha Police have revealed little about what happened on Sunday evening, other than to say that officers had been responding to a “domestic incident” in the 2800 block of 40th Street at the time.
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Now, the DOJ has said that officers arrived at the residence after a woman called police and said her boyfriend “was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a dispatcher told officers that there was an alert for a person wanted at that address for some reason.
Blake had a warrant issued for his arrest after he was charged with third-degree sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse in July.
The DOJ did not reveal details about that case, but said officers had attempted to arrest Blake when they arrived.
The department identified the officer who shot Blake as Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department.
Sheskey shot 29-year-old Blake while holding onto his shirt after officers first unsuccessfully used a Taser, according to the DOJ.
“Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” the DOJ said in a statement. “While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back.”
No other officer fired their weapons, the DOJ said. None of the officers were wearing body cameras because the police department doesn’t have them, the department added.
Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession during the investigation following the shooting, according to the DOJ.
State agents later recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle, the DOJ said. No other weapons were located in the vehicle. The DOJ did not say Blake threatened anyone with the knife.
Raysean White, the man who said he filmed the video of the shooting that circulated widely online, told The Associated Press that he heard officers shout “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before they shot Blake, but said he didn’t see one in his hands.
Police immediately provided medical aid to Blake, the DOJ said, and he was transported to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, where he remains.
On Tuesday, Ben Crump, an attorney representing Blake’s family, said Blake is paralyzed from the waist down because the bullets that struck him severed his spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae. He said it would “take a miracle” for Blake to walk again.
Crump called for the officer who shot Blake to be arrested and the others involved to be terminated.
The DOJ has yet to announce any charges, but said the involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.
“[The DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation] is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to a prosecutor following a complete and thorough investigation,” the DOJ said on August 24, adding that it will attempt to present its findings to prosecutors within 30 days.
“The prosecutor then reviews the report and makes a determination about what charges, if any, are appropriate,” the department added.
On Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was launching a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
The investigation will be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will co-operate with the investigation by state authorities, according to news release issued by U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Krueger and DOJ Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband.
“The federal investigation will run parallel to, and share information with, state authorities to the extent permissible under law,” the department said in a news release.
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