An attorney representing the Kenosha police union issued a statement saying Jacob Blake “forcefully fought” before he was shot.
Blake, 29, was shot Sunday by Officer Rusten Sheskey. The shooting, captured on video, ignited protests and counter-protests, rioting, the presence of armed militias in the city and a shooting by a 17-year-old Antioch teen acting as a member of a militia. That shooting left two men dead and another seriously injured.
The video recorded by a bystander and widely circulating on social media shows Blake walking around a parked vehicle followed by Sheskey who has his gun drawn, a second officer following behind Sheskey. As Blake opens the vehicle’s door and leans in, Sheskey, who is holding Blake by his shirt, fires his weapon seven times.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Friday identified the two other officers who were at the scene with Sheskey as Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek. Sheskey, a Kenosha Police officer for seven years. Arenas has been with the department since February 2019, and was previously employed by the United States Capitol Police Department. Meronek the department in January 2020.
Since the shooting, Blake has been hospitalized at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. He was left paralyzed by the shooting, according to his family and attorneys.
In a statement representing the Kenosha Professional Police Association, attorney Brendan Matthews said there are “wholly inaccurate” statements about the shooting circulating.
“The purely fictional depiction of events coming from those without direct knowledge of what actually occurred is incredibly harmful, and provides no benefit to anyone whatsoever, other than to perpetuate a misleading narrative,” Matthews stated.
The police shooting is under investigation by the Wisconsin DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation, the state agency acting as the outside investigator required by state law.
Official information about the shooting has been limited. Kenosha Police will not comment while it is under investigation, and the DOJ has released few details while the investigation is ongoing.
The DOJ stated that police were called to the 2800 block of 40th Street by a woman who said her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises. They also have stated that Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession and that a knife was found on the floor of his vehicle.
According to the statement from Matthews, officers were told before they arrived that Blake had a felony warrant for his arrest for a domestic violence incident that included a charge of third-degree sexual assault. Officers who encounter people with active warrants are required to take them into custody.
Although people at the scene told media that Blake was breaking up a fight between two women, the statement from the association disputes that. It also disputes statements that Blake was unarmed.
“Mr. Blake was not unarmed. He was armed with a knife. The officers did not see the knife initially,” Matthews said in his statement. “The officers issued repeated commands for Mr. Blake to drop the knife. He did not comply.”
Matthews stated that officers went “hands-on” with Blake and two officers used tasers. “Mr. Blake forcefully fought with the officers,” including putting one of the officers in a headlock.
“None of the officers involved wished for things to transpire the way it did,” Matthews said.