Jacob Blake Makes Court Appearance from His Hospital Bed, Pleads Not Guilty to Prior Charges
5th September 2020

Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by a white police officer has sparked nationwide protests, appeared in court on Friday to plead not guilty to three prior charges.

Blake, 29, made his appearance via Zoom from his hospital bed, where he has been recovering. The court hearing marked his first public appearance since the Aug. 23 shooting, which left him paralyzed below the waist.

The criminal complaint, which was filed prior to the shooting, accuses Blake of third-degree sexual assault, a felony charge, as well as criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, according to CNN and ABC News. The charges stem from an alleged assault in May.

If convicted of the felony sexual assault charge, Blake could face up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Blake’s lawyer, Patrick Cafferty, entered not guilty pleas for all three charges.

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Speaking to the court, Blake waived his right to a preliminary hearing and stipulated that he understood the charges being made against him. Blake also confirmed that he understood the terms of his $10,000 bail, Reuters reported.

“The state recognizes that these are serious charges but also that the defendant has serious injuries and he’s recovering at the hospital,” prosecutor Zeke Wiedenfeld said during the hearing, according to the outlet.

A pretrial conference had been scheduled for Oct. 21, with jury selection beginning on Nov. 9.

Last month a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Blake multiple times after officers had responded to what they said was a domestic disturbance.

Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot Blake, and two other officers at the scene, Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, are on leave while the state investigates whether to file charges against them.

The altercation has fueled protests in Kenosha and elsewhere in the country, including by athletes, following earlier demonstrations after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.

Since the shooting, Blake’s family has spoken to Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, but have not spoken with President Donald Trump, who visited Kenosha earlier this week.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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