Jacob Blake seen for first time since being shot by police

5 September 2020, 06:49

Jacob Blake was appearing in a court hearing via video link
Jacob Blake was appearing in a court hearing via video link. Picture: Kenosha County Court
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Jacob Blake, the black man whose shooting by the police sparked a fresh wave of protests in the USA, has appeared in a court hearing via video link.

Responding to questions from his hospital bed, the 29-year-old, who was left paralysed after being shot seven times by a white police officer, addressed charges related to a separate incident prior to his shooting.

He pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass, third-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct - charges that are based on statements from his ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his three children.

She filed a criminal complaint to the police in July saying that Mr Blake broke into her home on 3 May and sexually assaulted her, before stealing both her credit card and vehicle.

Her accusations are not related to the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin on 23 August.

A trial related to the charges is due to begin later this year after a local commissioner concluded there was sufficient evidence to take the case further.

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His ex-girlfriend was not named during the criminal complaint.

Mr Blake's not guilty plea was entered via his lawyer, who was also present on the video link, sitting next to the bed-ridden shooting victim.

The 29-year-old appeared on the Zoom call propped up in his hospital bed, wearing a blue shirt and yellow tie, speaking only a few times to confirm that he understood the proceedings and to say that he had no questions for the judge.

A video of Mr Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer as he tried to get into a car where his children were seated went viral last month.

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Kenosha's police union said the 29-year-old was carrying a knife and investigators confirmed they later found a blade on the floor of his vehicle.

His shooting, by a white police officer, sparked further protests across the US, as well as widespread looting and vandalism.

During those demonstrations, two people protesting against his shooting were shot and killed themselves in Kenosha.

17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse - who appears to be a Donald Trump supporter and a gun advocate - has been charged over the deaths after telling journalists it was "his job" to guard buildings in the city.

He has now been charged with six criminal counts over the shootings.