2 more Kenosha police officers identified in shooting of Jacob Blake

The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a statement late Thursday identifying two additional officers who were on the scene when Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back. They are Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek.

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Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake Jr.

In this September 2019 selfie photo taken in Evanston, Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin, Jacob Blake. He is recovering from being shot by Kenosha police on Aug. 23.

Courtesy Adria-Joi Watkins via AP

Two Kenosha police officers used tasers against Jacob Blake before one of the officers shot the 29-year-old on Sunday.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a statement late Thursday identifying the two additional officers who were on the scene when officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, a Black man, in the back seven times. Those officers are Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek.

The state Justice Department said the officers were sent to a home in the 2800 block of 40th Street in the southeastern Wisconsin city after a woman reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.

When they arrived, Blake was at the scene. In attempting to arrest Blake, Sheskey used his taser, but it did not stop Blake; Arenas’s taser also failed to stop him, according to the statement.

Sheskey opened fire on Blake as Blake leaned into his SUV in front of three of Blake’s children, who were inside the vehicle. The shooting has paralyzed Blake from the waist down and has sparked protests across the country, including several that turned violent in Kenosha.

“During the investigation following the initial incident, Mr. Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession. DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle,” according to the statement. No other weapons were found.

Arenas joined the Kenosha Police Department in February 2019; Meronek joined in January 2020.

In an interview televised Friday, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said the police officer involved in the Jacob Blake shooting should be charged.

“I don’t have all the evidence,” Harris told NBC’s Craig Melvin in an interview taped Thursday. “You know, the man was going to his car. He didn’t appear to be armed. And if he was not armed, the use of force that was seven bullets coming out of a gun at close range in the back of the man, I don’t see how anybody could reason that that was justifiable.”

Asked whether the officer should be charged, Harris said, “I think there should be a thorough investigation and, based on what I’ve seen, it seems that the officer should be charged.”

Harris is a former San Francisco prosecutor and California attorney general.

And asked whether judgment should be reserved because Blake “wouldn’t follow police commands,” Harris said about the officer, “Everyone should be afforded due process. I agree with that completely. But here’s the thing. In America we know these cases keep happening. And we have had too many Black men in America who have been the subject of this kind of conduct. And it’s got to stop.”

Blake remained hospitalized in Milwaukee. When his father visited him Wednesday, he told the Chicago Sun-Times his son was handcuffed to the bed.

“I hate it that he was laying in that bed with the handcuff onto the bed,” his father, also named Jacob Blake, said Thursday. “He can’t go anywhere. Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?”

Asked why his son was handcuffed, Blake’s father replied “he’s under arrest.” The father also said it was unclear what charge or charges his son might be facing, explaining “right now, we don’t know. We’re playing it by ear.”

The Kenosha Police Department, Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice did not respond to requests for information on whether the younger Blake, 29, had been arrested or charged.

Later Thursday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, in a televised news conference, said he did not know why Blake would need to be handcuffed to the bed.

“He’s paid a horrific price already,” the governor said. “I can’t imagine why that is happening. I would hope we would be able to find a better way for him to get better and recover.”

The family’s attorney is working to ensure Jacob Blake can go home once he’s released from the hospital, his father said.

Demonstrators have swarmed Kenosha in the days since Blake’s shooting. The unrest turned violent Tuesday night when three people were shot, two of them fatally.  Prosecutors on Thursday formally charged a 17-year-old from northeastern Illinois in that shooting.

Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of reckless homicide, one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. He is expected to appear in court Friday morning.

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