/  09.28.2020

The police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times told investigators he thought Blake was kidnapping a child, his lawyer recently told CNN. Attorney Brendan Matthews, who also represents the Kenosha, Wisconsin police union, told the outlet a woman cried out, “He’s got my kid; he’s got my keys” as Blake helped a child into his car.

Officer Rusten Sheskey had been responding to a call from the child’s mother who said Blake was at her home and shouldn’t be there, the lawyer said. Sheskey told investigators that he didn’t know there were two other kids in the backseat of Blake’s SUV, but did see him putting one child into the car when the woman yelled. Matthews argued that if Sheskey had allowed Blake to drive off with the child, “the question would have been: ‘Why didn’t you do something?’”

Speaking with Kenosha News, Blake’s uncle, Justin, said the cop’s claim that Blake was trying to kidnap his own children from their mother was “ridiculous.”

“It’s gaslighting,” he said. “Outright lies.”

The lawyer also claimed Sheskey only opened fire on Blake because he had “twisted” his body toward him while allegedly holding a knife. The Wisconsin Department of Justice and Kenosha Police Union previously said a knife was found in Blake’s car, but did not specify whether or not officers knew about the knife, nor if Blake had been holding it during the confrontation.

Cellphone video of the arrest — which prompted citywide protests — showed Blake leaning into his car behind the driver’s side door. Sheskey then opened fire, hitting Blake in the back seven times in front of his three young children. The bystander who recorded the incident told investigators he heard officers yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” but never saw a knife in Blake’s hands. As a result of the shooting, Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, his family and lawyers previously said.

Sheskey’s attorney’s claims arrive as authorities prepare to hand over the Wisconsin DOJ’s investigation findings to a retired police chief who will serve as an independent consultant for the case’s review. The retired chief will then forward along the investigation to local prosecutors in a procedure to determine whether or not the officers involved will be charged. As of now, the officers remain on paid administrative leave.


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