The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Friday released a statement saying two officers deployed shock weapons when trying to arrest Jacob Blake, just before one of the officers shot him seven times in the back.
The news about the stun guns comes amid protests, arrests and public outcry about the shooting. Among other news, Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old charged with homicide in the killing of two people at protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier this week, will remain in custody in Illinois after a judge agreed to delay a hearing on his extradition to Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse faces a first-degree intentional homicide charge and five other charges for shooting three people, two fatally, during unrest Tuesday night in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back on Sunday, which left Blake paralyzed from the waist down. The Wisconsin Senate planned to meet in a special session Monday to discuss police reform in wake of the shooting, the Associated Press reports.
Rittenhouse did not appear for the hearing Friday in Lake County Circuit Court. Another hearing on the status of his extradition has been set for Sept. 25.
The hearing comes after Kenosha saw a calmer night on Thursday, with volunteers cleaning up after nights of arson and vandalism and a prayer service held along Lake Michigan.
“We’re still in the thick of many challenges but there will be a coming together around a table in coming days,” Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said.
Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, thousands of people gathered Friday to demand police reform and voting rights at the March on Washington.
March on Washington: ‘This dream is still alive’: Thousands rally for racial justice
Here’s what we know Friday:
Protests continue across the country
Protests that have rocked the country for months in the wake of the deaths of multiple Black people at the hands of police continued Friday.
Raleigh and Portland both saw large crowds gathered. The Raleigh Police Department tweeted multiple times late Friday night a crowd had refused to comply with the city’s 10 p.m. curfew. WRAL-TV reported hundreds of protesters stayed out past curfew, and that police began arresting protesters shortly before 11:30 p.m. The Raleigh Police Department reported the crowd was detonating fireworks.
The Washington Post reported around 200 protesters blocked Interstate 295 in Washington late in the day. The Post added rain drove away many protesters, though there was some tension with police officers in the area. Across the country in Portland, protesters were reportedly outside Mayor Ted Wheeler’s home.
Two officers deployed stun guns before Jacob Blake was shot
The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Friday confirmed two officers tried to use shock weapons on Blake before he was shot in the back seven times.
The new information from the DOJ further illustrates what happened in the moments leading up to the Sunday shooting that left Blake paralyzed from the waist down. According to a statement, after police attempted to arrest Blake, Officer Rusten Sheskey deployed “a Taser” on Blake.
“When that attempt failed, Kenosha Police Officer Vincent Arenas also deployed his taser, however that taser was also not successful in stopping Mr. Blake,” the department said in a statement.
After that, Blake walked to his car and opened the driver-side door. Sheskey, while holding Blake’s shirt, fired seven shots into Blake’s back, according to the DOJ, and no other officer fired a gun. Also present was Officer Brittany Meronek.
Arenas has been with Kenosha police since February 2019 and Meronek joined the police department in January, according to the DOJ. All three officers have been placed on administrative leave.
The Wisconsin DOJ previously said Blake told officers he had a knife, and that a knife was recovered from the driver-side floorboard of Blake’s car.
Kyle Rittenhouse to remain in Illinois
In a less than 10-minute hearing livestreamed Friday, a public defenders for Rittenhouse requested to waive his presence there and for more time so that he could hire his own legal team.
“We also arranged for him to have a phone call with his mother this morning,” an attorney for Rittenhouse, Jennifer Snyder, said during the proceedings.
Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, is facing six charges in Wisconsin, the most serious of which is first-degree intentional homicide. Under Wisconsin law, Rittenhouse is charged as an adult, and he would face life in prison if convicted of the first-degree intentional homicide charge.
Rittenhouse also faces charges of first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed in the shooting; Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was injured.
Visual timeline: Violence in Kenosha after police shooting of Jacob Blake
Videos shared on social media show various angles of Rittenhouse using an AR-15-style rifle. In some of the video, Rittenhouse, who is white, is seen walking toward police vehicles after the shootings with his hands up in an apparent surrender, but police drive past him. He was arrested Wednesday in Antioch.
Rittenhouse told a reporter before the shooting he had come to Kenosha from his home in Antioch to defend property during the unrest.
Police chief defends officers who didn’t apprehend Rittenhouse
Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said Friday that he doesn’t think it was a lapse in judgment for police officers to drive by Rittenhouse.
“The totality of the circumstances, nothing suggested this person or anybody else who was armed around them was the person,” Miskinis said at a Friday afternoon press conference.
He said with other noise, including from the police radio, officers would have been “very unlikely” to have heard yelling from the crowd that the 17-year-old had shot people.
“There were a lot of people in the area, a lot of people with weapons and, unfortunately, a lot of gunfire,” Miskinis said. “So what the officers were … driving into in this case was a ‘shots fired’ complaint, not a shooting, not a ‘person down’ complaint.”
He said Rittenhouse walking toward police after the shooting with his hands up wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary in that situation. And while that behavior might have been abnormal two weeks ago, it no longer is, Miskinis said.
On a recording Miskinis heard, officers were telling Rittenhouse to get out of the way.
“Clearly they’re not seeing him as a suspect or a threat of any kind,” Miskinis said. “He’s allowed to leave, where he goes to Antioch and turns himself in because we have no idea that he’s involved.”
The officers, he said, were focused on what they see down the road.
Police union issues statements about what transpired in Blake shooting
Kenosha Police Association attorney Brendan P. Matthews and the union representing the involved officers released a lengthy statement Friday aiming to correct the record about facts related to the shooting.
“The recent officer-involved shooting in Kenosha has produced a variety of feelings and narratives; most of which are wholly inaccurate,” the release said. “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 says the officers were dispatched to the location because of a complaint that Blake was attempting to steal the caller’s keys/vehicle. According to Matthews, officers were aware of Blake’s open warrant and that he was armed with a knife.
Jacob Blake’s father: My son is ‘a human being’ but ‘has not been afforded the rights of a human’
In an interview with CNN on Friday morning, Jacob Blake Sr. opened up about his son’s recovery and described “two justice systems” in which his son was shot as he walked away from police while Rittenhouse was not arrested after fatally shooting two people.
“He’s a person. He’s a human being. He’s not an animal.” Blake told CNN. “But my son has not been afforded the rights of a human.”
Blake told the Chicago Sun Times Thursday that his son was handcuffed to his hospital bed, even though he’s paralyzed from the waist down.
But by Friday afternoon, the handcuffs were removed, Blake’s attorney, Patrick Cafferty, told CNN and Kenosha News. Deputies from Milwaukee County were stationed in Blake’s room and he was restrained because of the rules surrounding a July warrant for a domestic violence issue, according to Cafferty. The warrants have been vacated Friday, he said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Patrick Salvi and B’Ivory Lamarr, said in a statement they learned Friday the warrants for Blake were vacated, though charges against him are “still pending.”
“Fortunately, a man who is paralyzed and fighting for his life after being shot seven times in the back, will no longer have to deal with the pain of having his ankles and wrist shackled and the traumatic stress of being under armed guard,” the attorneys said in a statement.
USA TODAY has reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Justice to confirm Blake’s warrants have been vacated.
Cafferty said he spoke with District Attorney Michael Graveley Friday morning and was able to arrange payment of $500 bond on the July charge.
Blake has tried not to tell his son about the unrest in Kenosha. He has gotten good news, though, Blake said.
“The thing that made him smile was the Milwaukee Bucks. That made him smile,” Blake said. The Bucks were the first of several pro sports teams this week to sit out their games in the wake of the shooting as they demanded justice for Blake and the officer responsible be held accountable. Blake said the team sent his son a signed jersey, too.
Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris also spoke with Blake’s family for almost an hour, Blake said. “They were so comforting that you almost forgot how the situation as playing out,” Blake said. President Donald Trump has not reached out to his family, Blake said.
Moving forward, Blake said his grandchildren, who were in the car that his son was walking toward when police shot him, will have to deal with emotional distress of seeing the violence that happened to their father.
“Pop pop, why did they shoot my daddy in the back?” Blake said his eldest grandson asked him.
Calm night Thursday in Kenosha
After violent unrest earlier in the week, Kenosha was calmer Thursday night.
More than 200 people prayed at Harbor Park along Lake Michigan. The pastors who organized the event said they wanted the city to be known for its love of God, not the violence that has plagued its streets in the last week.
Earlier in the day, Kreuser and Mayor John Antaramian pledged to take on the challenges of racial inequality at the root of the protests.
“Unity becomes one of the main aspects of what has to happen in this community, and that unity is only going to happen if all of us work together,” Antaramian said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson appeared at a news conference and said the different treatment of Blake and Rittenhouse by police fit a pattern.
‘We really just need prayers’: Jacob Blake’s mother says son would be ‘unpleased’ with destruction in Kenosha
“We demand justice in the country,” the civil rights icon said.
Attorneys representing Blake and his family also drew a sharp distinction between the two cases.
“They shot him seven times in the back in front of his children,” the attorneys statement read, referring to Blake.
But when it came to Rittenhouse, “local law enforcement and National Guardsmen allowed him to walk down the street with his assault weapon,” said Crump, Salvi and Lamarr.
The protest have drawn national attention, and Trump said earlier this week “federal law enforcement and the National Guard” will be sent to Kenosha to restore law and order.
On Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers announced National Guard troops from Arizona, Michigan and Alabama will arrive to assist Wisconsin’s troops at his request. Evers already had sent more than 500 Wisconsin guard members to Kenosha this week.
A small group continued to protest in downtown Kenosha after curfew Thursday, which went into effect at 7 p.m.
Protesters made their way through the streets with stops at Library Park and the Civic Center Park. Livestreams from people on the scene showed some arrests of protesters. It also showed people waiting for friends who were arrested earlier to be released.
Close to midnight a group of less than 50 protesters remained.
Contributing: Matthew Brown, Maureen Groppe, David Jackson, Nicquel Terry Ellis and N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY; JR Radcliffe, Alison Dirr and Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kenosha: Kyle Rittenhouse in Illinois, Jacob Blake protest shooting