Jacob Blake says he was able to take a few steps during his son’s birthday last week, a year after a police officer shot him seven times and left him paralyzed from the waist down while his children watched from the backseat of a car.
Blake, 30, says he was ‘geeked’ when he was finally able to stand in October of last year, and he even took a few steps on August 23, exactly one year after Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer Rusten Sheskey shot him seven times in his side on August 23, 2020.
‘I forgot how tall I was,’ he said in an interview with CNN.
His healing process has been slow, Blake shared, as he detailed the physical and emotional pain he’s felt in the past year as he underwent months of physical rehabilitation and succumbed to bouts of depression.
Jacob Blake, 30, took a few steps during his son’s birthday party on August 23
Blake says he’s suffered depression and anxiety after a police officer shot him on his side seven times and left him paralyzed from the waist down in August of last year
He was able to stand up last October, saying his pain felt like his legs were sliding ‘through a woodchipper’
‘At one point it felt like someone was sliding my legs through a woodchipper,’ he said. ‘It’s been progress every two weeks … it made it easier for me to be like I’m healing.’
‘I’m still going through a lot of pain,’ he added. ‘Last week I was up for three days straight, slept for a whole day.
‘When I fall into depression, which I have, it makes my body hurt. I don’t have the physical strength to be upset.’
He also reportedly suffered an anxiety attack during the Fourth of July weekend, going so far as calling 911 as fireworks blasted outside while he was with family in the Chicago area, which was going through a particularly turbulent period of gun violence.
‘Before we even got to the 4th of July, the weekend was bloody already. I was watching all of my people dying.
‘I’m hearing these booms [fireworks] and it’s not scaring me because I got shot, it’s scaring me because all of those people have gotten shot so every time a boom went off, I’m kind of imagining people dying.’
His shooting touched off protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August, after a summer that saw nationwide protests over other officer-involved shootings of black people across the country
Some of the protests became violent. Above, police stand near a building on fire in Kenosha
Blake said of the unrest: ‘I didn’t agree with what they were doing, but I understood’
Blake also described feeling dissociative as he watched protesters chant his name on TV as he was still handcuffed to a bed.
He was shot after officers arrived at his address following reports of ‘family trouble,’ according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Blake had a warrant for his arrest at the time of his shooting, and was struck by seven bullets after turning towards a cop while holding a knife.
‘I can’t really explain the feeling … it was out of body. I felt like I was floating for a while, watching everything happen.
‘It blew my mind that they were that mad about it, that people care about it, that they care about me.’
In November 2020, Blake was sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and domestic abuse from a previous incident.
As part of the plea deal, one count of criminal trespassing and one count of third-degree sexual assault and domestic abuse were dropped, according to NBC News.
According to a probably cause statement from May 3, 2020, a complainant had met with officers crying, visibly shaken and dressed only in a nightgown.
She told police Blake woke her up at about 6am after she had come back from a party.
Blake was standing over her saying, ‘I want my sh*t.’ As the victim laid on her back, Blake, ‘suddenly and without warning, reached his hand between her legs’ and sexually assaulted her, it is claimed.
She told the police she realized her car and debit card were missing after he left.
She also said that Blake was unemployed and that, over the past eight years, he had physically assaulted her twice a year ‘when he drinks heavily.’
At the time of the shooting, Blake had a warrant for his arrest for charges including sexual assault and domestic violence
The officer who shot Blake, Rusten Sheskey, has returned to active duty and has not been charged at the state level, though a federal investigation by the FBI and DOJ is ongoing
Sheskey, the officer who shot Blake, was placed on administrative leave after the incident but returned to work on March 31 after the shooting was investigated ‘by an outside agency,’ according to the Kenosha Police Department.
He returned to active duty in April of this year, according to CNN.
The officer was not charged at the state level, but the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin is conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting with help from the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Sheskey’s attorney has said that Blake was holding a knife during the encounter and that the officer believed he was trying to kidnap the kids in the backseat of the SUV when he shot him.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, killed two people during the unrest in Kenosha after Blake’s death
He also injured one other person. He faces two felony charges and is out on $2 million bail
The officer heard a woman say, ‘He’s got my kid. He’s got my keys,’ the attorney told CNN last year.
Blake has decried the violence that followed his shooting, which left vehicles charred and reduced the Kenosha Department of Corrections building to rubble.
The unrest came months after the police shootings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd had already led to massive protests, some of which turned violent and went on for months.
‘I didn’t agree with what they were doing, but I understood,’ he said.
His town of Kenosha, a town of about 100,000 people between Chicago and Milwaukee, became the site of another newsworthy tragedy when 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two of them, amid the unrest.
Rittenhouse faces two felony murder charges and is out on $2 million bail.
Blake said Rittenhouse’s race may have played a part in how differently he was treated by police.
‘That was like a kick right in the you know what,’ he said.
‘I was angry, I was furious, and I felt like I had every right to be.’
‘For the reasons they said they shot me, they had every reason to shoot him, but they didn’t. Honestly if his skin color was different, and I’m not prejudiced or a racist, he probably would have been labeled a terrorist.’