An attorney for the Kenosha, Wisc., police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back on Aug. 23 is now claiming that his client shot Blake because he believed the 29-year-old was attempting a kidnapping at the time of the confrontation that led to weeks of protests against police violence.
In a recent interview with CNN, attorney Brendan Matthews said Officer Rusten Sheskey made the decision to shoot Blake, not just because of the knife police officers have claimed Blake was wielding, but because Sheskey feared Blake was going to flee the scene with a child he had just placed in his back seat.
It’s been reported that there were three children sitting in Blake’s car at the time of the shooting. However, Matthews said in the interview that as Sheskey arrived at the scene, he saw Blake place one child in the back seat of his car but was unaware that the other two children were also seated there.
“He’s got my kid. He’s got my keys,” Sheskey heard a woman say, according to attorney Brendan Matthews, who is representing the officer. If Sheskey had allowed Blake to drive away and something happened to the child “the question would have been ‘why didn’t you do something?’” Matthews said.
The attorney’s comments to CNN come as authorities in Wisconsin announced this week that the results of an investigation by the state Department of Justice would soon be turned over to a retired police chief serving as an independent consultant for his review. The consultant is in turn expected to forward the case to local prosecutors along with an analysis intended to help determine whether criminal charges against Sheskey are warranted. The officer remains on paid administrative leave.
Blake has not been charged with any crimes related to the confrontation—despite the fact that at one point he was handcuffed to his hospital bed as he recovered from his wounds, which reportedly left him paralyzed from the waist down—but Matthews insists that Blake was the aggressor that day, not the police officers.
Matthews told CNN that the current narrative surrounding the shooting is “incomplete, inaccurate.” What he really means is that the involved police officers’ accounts of what took place differ from that of Blake’s family members, attorneys and some witnesses.
For example, Matthews repeated claims made by Sheskey that Blake had a knife in his hand and “twisted his body towards the officer” before he was shot. In the video footage that circulated on social media in the wake of the shooting, there is no visible weapon in Blake’s hand, but Matthews said a second officer on the scene, who he also represents, said he also saw the knife. According to Matthew, that officer claimed he also would have shot Blake but he didn’t have a clear angle despite his vantage point being clear enough to corroborate Sheskey’s story.
Blake’s attorneys and family members have repeatedly asserted that Blake was unarmed at the time he was shot and denied allegations that he fought with officers prior to shots being fired. According to CNN, investigators have reported that a knife was found on the floorboard of Blake’s car but have not released any reports saying Blake held the knife at any point during the confrontation.