Benjamin Crump: Blake’s family wants accountability and justice
Benjamin Crump, civil rights attorney and representing the Blake family, joins ‘America’s News HQ.’
Jacob Blake's attorney Benjamin Crump said Blake's family wants accountability and justice after the 29-year old was shot by Kenosha, Wis. police last month during a confrontation caught on video.
Crump made the comments on “America’s News HQ” on Sunday, two days after Blake appeared in court via video for the first time since he was shot in the back, which reportedly left him paralyzed from the waist down.
From his hospital bed, Blake pleaded not guilty to a previous felony, third-degree sexual assault, as well as misdemeanor criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
Blake is accused in court documents of sexually assaulting a woman in her home on May 3, stealing her Ford Explorer and debit card, and making two fraudulent ATM withdrawals for $500, WGN9 reported.
Blake has drawn national attention after cell phone footage captured the moment he was shot in the back seven times by police on Aug. 23 as officers responded to a woman reporting domestic abuse.
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“You see from the video that Jacob Blake Jr. holds no threat to the officers as he’s moving away from them trying to get in his vehicle and get his three little boys out of a volatile situation, when the police grabbed his t-shirt and shoots him seven times point-blank range in the back, paralyzing him with his 8-year-old, his 5-year-old and his 3-year-old sons all watching this happen to their father,” Crump said on Sunday.
“And so from that moment to this one, his family has been praying for his health and recovery that he would just survive such an excessive brutal use of force.”
He added that Blake’s family is also “hoping that there will be accountability because there seems to be [an] epidemic where Black people who have not put anybody in harm’s way … continue to be killed.”
Blake was attempting to break up a dispute when police arrived, according to Crump.
But police say the initial 911 call was about Blake, who was reportedly attempting to take keys to a vehicle that wasn’t his. Responding officers said they were aware that Blake had an open warrant for sexual assault, according to local news outlet WBAY.
The shooting sparked protests and riots in Kenosha, following months of nationwide demonstrations after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. Video in that case showed an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
“I got staples in my back, staples in my damn stomach, you do not want to have to deal with this, 24 hours, every 24 hours it’s pain,” Blake said speaking from his hospital bed on Friday.
“It hurts to breathe, it hurts to sleep, it hurts to move from side to side, it hurts to eat,” he added.
Host Arthel Neville pointed to other comments made by Blake from his hospital bed on Friday.
"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, because there's so much time that's been wasted."
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Neville then asked Crump, who also represents the Floyd family, who Blake was “talking to” with that comment.
In response, Crump said it was “obviously” an “emotional statement.” He added that “Jacob is a good young man.”
Crump then said that there are "all these rumors and false information out there” about Blake.
“Jacob Blake Jr. has never ever been convicted of a crime in his life,” he said.
Neville then pointed out that while Blake has not been convicted, he has reportedly been accused in court documents of sexual assaulting a woman in her home. She also acknowledged that that “doesn’t not justify what happened two weeks ago,” referring to the police shooting.
“He has never been convicted of a crime in his life. We are confident that he will be found not guilty of these latest allegations if they are even brought to the courtroom once everything comes out,” Crump said in response.
“But what we do know is what happened on that video was unjustified and there seems to always be on occasion when Black people are shot or killed by police to try to assassinate their character to justify the unjustifiable actions of law enforcement.”
“We have to say that we cannot continue to demonize people of color after we killed them or injure them,” he continued. “We have to say we have equal justice in America and we have to treat Black citizens like we treat White citizens.”
“There cannot be two justice systems in America, there has to be equal justice for all citizens in America,” Crump went on to say.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice said a federal investigation has been opened into the shooting of Blake. The FBI will conduct the investigation in cooperation with the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and other state authorities, and will be overseen by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The release said that “the federal investigation will run parallel to, and share information with state authorities to the extent permissible under law.”
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A pre-trial conference has been set for Oct. 21, with jury selection slated for Nov. 9.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.
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