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Jacob Blake no longer shackled to his hospital bed, lawyer says

Jacob Blake lies on the street after he got shot following a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 23, 2020 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.

Incident Response via Reuters

Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is no longer in police custody or shackled to his hospital bed, his lawyer said Friday.

The lawyer, Patrick Salvi Jr., said that “through the legal process” and after communicating with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, Blake’s legal team was able to have the warrant vacated.

Earlier Friday, Salvi said that Blake was being held on an outstanding warrant stemming from an incident in July. One of Blake’s feet was shackled to the bed per the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department policy since at least Wednesday, Salvi said. Blake is paralyzed from the waist down, according to his lawyer and his father, also named Jacob Blake.

Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said in 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.

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.

“The injury that he sustained — not only a traumatic spinal cord injury which creates just unbearable nerve-related pain,” Salvi said. “He also had five or six other bullets into his body other than the two that made contact with his spine.”

“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 police have said, according to Salvi. The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, did not respond to a request for comment.

Blake was shot Sunday by Officer Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha Police Department, during an attempted arrest, authorities said.

On Friday, the Wisconsin DOJ identified the other two officers involved in the confrontation as Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, who joined the department in February 2019 and January 2020, respectively.

In this September 2019 selfie photo taken in Evanston, Ill., Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake. He is recovering from being shot multiple times by Kenosha police on Aug. 23.

Adria-Joi Watkins via AP

Officers were called to a home Sunday 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 there. Police have not responded to multiple inquiries on whether Blake was the subject of the woman’s complaint.

After the initial attempt to arrest Blake, Sheskey deployed a taser to stop him, the department said in a news release Friday. When that attempt failed, Arenas deployed his taser, but it was also unsuccessful in stopping Blake, police claim.

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.

Blake’s lawyer called that into question Friday. He said Blake is heavily sedated and the hospital, like others around the country, restricted visitors to one person a day because of the coronavirus pandemic. Salvi 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. Kenosha police officers do not wear body cameras because the department does not have them, according to the DOJ’s release. But the shooting was captured on cellphone video and widely shared on social media, sparking protests in the city 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, Wisconsin. Janelle Griffith reported from New York

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