Some new information has surfaced in the Jacob Blake case and it gives us a glimpse into the defense of the officer’s actions on the day of the incident that resulted in Blake’s hospitalization. According to his lawyer, Officer Rusten Sheskey told investigators that his actions weren’t only motivated by safeguarding his own life, but that he was also trying to defend the children involved.
CNN reported that Sheskey fired his weapon at Blake because he believed that Blake was attempting to kidnap a child that was sitting in the back of the car. “He’s got my kid. He’s got my keys,” Sheskey heard the woman who was involved in the situation say. Brendan Matthews, the officer’s lawyer, argued that if Sheskey had allowed Blake to leave and the child was harmed, “the question would have been ‘why didn’t you do something?’”
Matthews stated that at the time Sheskey fired his weapon, Blake was holding a knife and twisted his body toward him. This part is not visible in the video because Blake’s body is obscured by the door of the vehicle. The second officer confirms Sheskey’s account and stated that he would have also opened fire but did not have a clear angle. The knife in question was found on the floorboard of the vehicle.
The incident occurred after Sheskey and other officers responded to a call about “family trouble” at the home. The dispatch log indicates that a woman reported that Blake had stolen her car keys and refused to give them back. Blake’s family stated that he had been attending a birthday party for one of his children.
Upon arriving at the scene, Sheskey saw Blake put one of the children in the car, but did not know that there were already two more kids in the backseat. Another officer said he heard a woman yelling that Blake had her kids. The police department’s press release stated that the encounter became combative when they attempted to apprehend Blake, who they say “actively resisted.”
After scuffling with Blake, and firing a taser at him, the police tried again to arrest him. Blake managed to put Sheskey in a headlock, and he was tased for a second time, which did not stop him. It was at this point that Sheksey noticed Blake was holding a knife.
The officers drew their guns and ordered Blake to drop the knife, but he refused. He began walking to the front of the vehicle as the officers told him to stop while pointing their weapons at him. Video footage shows that Blake was carrying the knife in his left hand as he made his way around the front of the car, according to the statement.
Raysean White, a witness who shot the video footage of the incident told CNN’s Erin Burnett that he heard police twice tell Blake to “drop the knife,” but that he did not see the weapon in Blake’s hand. The authorities did not charge Blake with stealing the money or the car but he was charged with sexual assault and other offenses.
Based on the details of this case, it is unlikely that the officers involved in the shooting will be convicted of committing a crime. Some have argued that they should have apprehended Blake before he got to the driver’s side door. There might be merit to this argument.
However, the fact that he was likely carrying a knife raised the stakes considerably. The fact that the woman in the situation told officers that Blake was taking her child would have created more urgency around the situation.
Many on the left are calling for Sheskey to be charged with attempted murder. However, this is yet another case in which these individuals are pushing for overcharging the officers, which would almost certainly result in an acquittal. As Matthews’ lawyer said, “He didn’t go to work wanting to shoot anybody. He went to work trying to help people. That’s what he does every day.”
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