The police chief in Kenosha, Wis., and the state’s attorney general declined on Friday to dispute claims by the family of Jacob Blake — the man shot multiple times by a police officer last weekend — that he was being handcuffed to his hospital bed.
Speaking to NPR’s All Things Considered, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he could not confirm Blake’s condition, nor whether he had been paralyzed by his injuries.
“What I can tell you is that he is not in custody in connection with the investigation that my office is conducting,” said Kaul, whose office is participating in an FBI-led investigation of the shooting, adding: “I don’t have authority over whether he is handcuffed. But my view is that he should not be handcuffed.”
On Thursday, Blake’s uncle told CNN that Blake’s father had visited his son in the hospital and said he was “heartbroken” that his son had been handcuffed.
“This is an insult to injury,” the uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN. “He is paralyzed and can’t walk and they have him cuffed to the bed. Why?”
By Friday afternoon, CNN, quoting Blake’s attorney, was reporting that the restraints had been removed.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, Kenosha Police chief Daniel Miskinis was asked whether Blake had been shackled to his bed.
“He is and has been under the guard of an outside agency,” he said. “He’s being guarded because he’s under arrest and it was for an outstanding warrant for third-degree sexual assault.”
The news conference comes on the same day that the Wisconsin Department of Justice, whose Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, issued a statement offering some details of Sunday’s shooting.
In it, the department said police had responded to a call from “a female caller [who] reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.”
“After the initial attempt to arrest Mr. Blake, Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey deployed a taser,” it said. “When that attempt failed, Kenosha Police Officer Vincent Arenas also deployed his taser, however that taser was also not successful in stopping Mr. Blake.”
“Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” the statement said. “While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back.”
The statement also said that Blake “admitted to investigators that he had a knife in his possession” and that the knife was subsequently from “the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle.”
Speaking to NPR, Kaul was asked whether the statement’s mention of the knife could be viewed as an effort to justify the actions of police.
“Absolutely not. We are providing information about the basic facts of the case,” he said. “Our effort in this case is to provide a full, thorough and vigorous investigation, and to get to the truth of the relevant facts to the extent possible.”