The Kenosha, Wis., police union issued a statement Friday on the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an incident last Sunday that sparked protests and rioting in the city this week that led to at least two deaths.
Authorities have said Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha police Officer Rusten Sheskey while being taken into custody. On Friday he remained paralyzed in a Kenosha hospital.
Video of the incident shot by a bystander set off violent nightly protests — including Tuesday night’s unrest, in which a 17-year-old from Illinois allegedly fatally shot two people and wounded a third.
In Sunday’s incident, Blake was “armed with a knife” and “forcefully fought” with officers, putting one of them in a headlock, Brendan Matthews, an attorney for the Kenosha Professional Police Association, said Friday, according to Kenosha News.
State investigators, however, said Blake had a knife “in his possession,” and it was later recovered from the floorboard of his vehicle, FOX 6 of Milwaukee reported.
Matthews said officers first tried unsuccessfully to subdue Blake with stun guns.
Blake’s lawyer claimed his client was trying to break up a domestic dispute before his arrest and he was unarmed at the time.
The police union statement added that most accounts of the shooting were “wholly inaccurate” and “purely fictional,” Kenosha News reported.
“Mr. Blake was not unarmed. He was armed with a knife. The officers did not see the knife initially. The officers issued repeated commands for Mr. Blake to drop the knife. He did not comply.”
The 20-second video shot by a bystander doesn’t show what led up to the shooting and Wisconsin authorities have given few details.
Blake’s uncle reportedly called the police union’s account “garbage” and insulting.”
In a Friday interview on CNN, one of the attorneys for Blake disputed the police union’s account, calling its version of events “overblown.” The lawyer said police officers who responded to the call were the aggressors and immediately became physical with Blake upon arriving at the scene.
Meanwhile, Blake is no longer handcuffed to his hospital bed in Milwaukee. Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis told reporters Friday that Blake was “being guarded because he’s under arrest” on an outstanding warrant for third-degree sexual assault.
Patrick Cafferty, a lawyer representing Blake, said a $500 bail was posted Friday, allowing officers to remove the handcuffs and no longer guard the 29-year-old. Two officers had been guarding Blake since he was hospitalized after the shooting.