By: BILL HUTCHINSON and STEPHANIE WASH, ABC News
(KENOSHA, Wis.) — In his first public comments about being shot seven times in the back and paralyzed by a Wisconsin police officer, Jacob Blake described the pain he endures 24 hours a day and how his life changed in the snap of a finger.
The 29-year-old Black man, who was shot last month in Kenosha in front of three of his children, broke his silence in the 57-second video from his hospital bed that was released by his attorney.
“I just want to say, man, to all the young cats out there, and even the older ones older than me, it’s a lot more life to live out here, man. Your life and not only just your life, your legs, something that you need to move around and move forward in life, can be taken from you like this, man,” he says snapping his right fingers.
Blake, a father of six children, was shot on Aug. 23 when Kenosha police officers, including Officer Rusten Sheskey, 31, responded to a domestic incident after a woman called 911 saying, “Her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. The woman has not been identified and authorities have not said if Blake was the subject of the complaint.
Once on the scene, officers said they tried to arrest Blake and deployed a Taser in an unsuccessful attempt to detain him, the department said. Investigators said Blake walked to his vehicle, “opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward,” before Sheskey, who is white, fired seven shots into Blake’s back, according to the agency.
The shooting was captured on a witness’s cellphone video, sparking protests in Kenosha that included vandalism, looting, numerous arrests and the deaths of two men who were allegedly shot by a 17-year-old suspect who was among a group who say they were protecting property.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Blake and his family, posted the video of Blake speaking from Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee on Saturday, writing, “#JacobBlake released this powerful video message from his hospital bed today, reminding everyone just how precious life is.”
“I’ve got staples in my back, staples in my damn stomach. You do not want to have to deal with this s—, man,” Blake says in the video. “Every 24 hours, it’s pain, it’s nothing but pain. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to sleep, it hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”
Blake also added a message of hope that his ordeal will bring people together to turn his tragedy into something positive.
“Please, I’m telling you, change y’all lives out there,” Blake said. “We can stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people out here, man, ’cause it’s so much time that has been wasted.”
Blake’s family said the shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down and that doctors fear he may never walk again.
All of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave. Sheskey is the only officer who fired his gun at Blake, authorities said.
No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting.
Investigators have not explained why officers moved to arrest Blake or why Sheskey fired so many times.
The agency said Blake told officers that he had a knife in his possession. Investigators said police later recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle. The Wisconsin DOJ has not said whether Blake was holding that knife during his interaction with police.
An attorney for the Kenosha Professional Police Association has previously released a statement disputing the facts about the Blake shooting that were released by the Wisconsin DOJ.
Crump has said Blake was helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew their weapons and used a Taser on him.
Blake’s family is calling for the officers to be fired and for Sheskey to be charged with attempted murder.
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