Kathmandu- Jacob Blake, the black man shot in the back by police in the US state of Wisconsin, has reportedly been released from handcuffs while in hospital. Police in Kenosha had said that Mr Blake was in custody for previous warrants and the handcuffs were policy.
His attorney told US media that these warrants had been cancelled and that officers guarding Mr Blake had left. Mr Blake was paralysed after being shot seven times by police and it is not clear if he will walk again. Meanwhile, a court hearing for a teenager charged with killing two people during unrest over Mr Blake’s shooting has been delayed by a month.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, had been due to appear before a court in Lake County, Illinois, for a hearing on a request to have him extradited to Wisconsin. But a judge postponed the extradition hearing until 25 September. Mr Rittenhouse did not appear during Friday’s brief video conference.
He faces six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon below the legal age of 18. Mr Rittenhouse is being defended by a prominent legal firm whose clients have included President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani and former Trump adviser Carter Page.
Mr Blake’s shooting in the city of Kenosha sparked demonstrations there and in other cities across the US. It has been relatively quiet for the past two nights. Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said on Friday that the citywide curfew would remain in place through the weekend. There are more than 1,000 National Guard troops deployed in Kenosha with more on their way, authorities said.
What have the family said ?
Mr Blake’s father, also called Jacob Blake, spoke to reporters after visiting his son in hospital. “I hate it that he was laying in that bed with the handcuff on to the bed,” he said, quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times. “He can’t go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?”
On Friday, Mr Blake’s attorney, Patrick Cafferty, told US media that Mr Blake was released from handcuffs and the outstanding warrants against him had been vacated. Mr Cafferty did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
Asked earlier in the day whether Mr Blake was being detained in hospital, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis told reporters that he was under the guard of an “outside law enforcement agency” and did not provide further comment on Mr Blake’s status. Mr Blake’s lawyers have said it will take “a miracle” for him to walk again.
Lt Eric Klinkhammer, of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, told the BBC: “Mr Blake is in custody for previous felony warrants. Our policy indicates that all people in custody outside of our jail facility shall be secured with restraints.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, asked by reporters if he was concerned that Mr Blake had been handcuffed to his bed, said: “Hell yes.” “I would have no personal understanding why that would be necessary,” he said. “Certainly he’s paid a horrific price already, been shot seven or eight times in the back.”
Members of Mr Blake’s family were due to attend a high-profile civil rights rally in Washington on Friday. It has been spurred by months of unrest over police brutality against black people. On Thursday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for the immediate resignation of Kenosha’s police chief and county sheriff, accusing them of defending “white supremacy” and “demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their First Amendment rights and speaking out against police violence”.
Mayor Antaramian said on Friday that he would not seek the resignations of Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth or Police Chief Daniel Miskinis. “When you look at what has occurred, everyone is doing the best they can in the situation they’re in,” he said.
How did the shooting happen ?
The circumstances that led up to Mr Blake’s shooting are still under investigation. Wisconsin Attorney-General Josh Kaul said officers were called to an address after a woman reported that “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises”.While there, officers tried to arrest Mr Blake, initially using a taser against him.
After Mr Blake opened his car door, officer Rusten Sheskey – who has been in the Kenosha Police Department for seven years – fired seven shots into Mr Blake’s back. “No other officer fired their weapon,” Mr Kaul said. Mr Kaul added that officers “recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard” of the car. No other weapon was found in the vehicle. Rusten Sheskey and another officer have since been placed on administrative leave.
What about Kyle Rittenhouse ?
The 17-year-old had told journalists it was “his job” to guard buildings in Kenosha against protesters. Videos on social media appeared to show a man with a rifle being chased by a crowd before he fell to the ground and appeared to fire at them. Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 and Anthony Huber, 26, both died in the incident.
Gaige Grosskreutz, also 26, was injured. Mr Rittenhouse was arrested at his mother’s house in Antioch, Illinois on Wednesday. Asked about how Mr Rittenhouse was able to leave the scene without being detained by authorities, Chief Miskinis said that “there was nothing to suggest that this individual was involved in any criminal behaviour”.
“There were a lot of people in the area,” Mr Misikinis said, adding that he did not think it was a lapse in judgment to have allowed Mr Rittenhouse to leave.