Jacob Blake says he did not want to be the ‘next George Floyd’ in first TV interview

‘I didn’t want to die’

James Crump
Thursday 14 January 2021 20:35
Jacob Blake walked away from police because he didn't want to be 'next George Floyd'

Jacob Blake, a father who was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has revealed that he only resisted arrest because he did not want to be the “next George Floyd”.

Mr Blake, 29, was left paralysed due to the gunshot wounds sustained in the incident on 23 August 2020, which caused outrage across America and days of protests in Kenosha.

Speaking to Good Morning America (GMA) in his first televised interview this week, Mr Blake told host Michael Straham that he resisted arrest from officers but claimed that he had his “hands up” during the whole incident.

“I resisted getting beat on, and what I mean by that is not falling, not letting them put their head on my neck, that’s all I was thinking, honestly,” Mr Blake said in the interview.

“I didn’t want to be the next George Floyd,” he continued. “I didn’t want to die,” Mr Blake added.

Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in May 2020 while in the custody of Minneapolis police, sparking protests in every state across the US in opposition to racial injustice.

The Black Lives Matter protests took place across America throughout the summer of 2020, and the shooting of Mr Blake sparked an increase in demonstrations in Kenosha and other states in the US.

Officers claimed that Mr Blake threatened them with a knife during the incident in August 2020, but in the interview with GMA, he disputed this claim, saying that it had fallen out of his pocket.

“I realised I had dropped my knife, a little pocket knife,” Mr Blake said. “So I picked it up,” he added.

His lawyer Ben Crump also disputed the claim that Mr Blake threatened officers with a knife, telling GMA: “Nowhere does the video footage show a knife extended and aimed to establish the requisite intent”.

The incident occurred after Mr Blake had visited the mother of three of his children to celebrate the birthday of his 8-year-old son.

At one point, the mother argued with a neighbour, so Mr Blake said he decided to drive two of his children to a shop “to forget about all this.”

However, the mother called the police and claimed that Mr Blake was trying to steal her rental car. Officers arrived at the scene and tasered Mr Blake multiple times and claimed that they told him a warrant was out for his arrest.

Mr Blake denied this, and told GMA: “I couldn’t hear that. All I heard was screaming, screaming. My ears was ringing. So it was all muffled.”

Mr Blake was shot seven times by officer Rusten Sheskey during the incident, which was witnessed by two of his children sitting in the backseat of the car.

“‘Daddy loves you, no matter what,” Mr Blake said he told his children after he was shot. “I thought it was going to be the last thing I say to them. Thank God it wasn’t,” the 29-year-old added to GMA.

Mr Blake’s interview was recorded a week after Kenosha County district attorney Mike Graveley revealed that Mr Sheskey would not face charges for the incident that paralysed Mr Blake.

Mr Graveley said it was the office’s ethical obligation not to bring charges if it was clear that a case would not stand up in court. He claimed that his team could not defeat Mr Sheskey’s claims of self-defence with the evidence available to them.

“The jury would be instructed they can't use 2020 hindsight, they have to talk about what decision would be reasonable for an officer in the shoes of officer Shesky in that moment,” Mr Graveley said.

He added: “The question to the jury would be did officer Shesky reasonably believe that shooting at Jacob Blake would be necessary to avoid being stabbed by him or to protect someone else from being harmed.”

Moving forward, Mr Graveley said that every police officer in Kenosha should be equipped with a body camera. The officers involved in the incident remain on administrative leave.

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