Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday that Jacob Blake committed and "armed" a crime when a Kenosha police officer shot him in the back last month.
The AG made the comment in a CNN interview the day after visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city still affected by the shooting of the black man who is paralyzed from the waist down. The incident sparked angry protests and the city suffered looting and property damage.
Barr made sharp distinctions between the cases of Blake and George Floyd, who died when they were arrested by Minneapolis police with an officer's knee on the neck.
Attorney General Bill Barr said Jacob Blake was "in the middle of the commission of a crime and he was armed" when he was shot and killed seven times by a Kenosha police officer
Barr initially said he would not compare the two cases, finding that the Justice Department is investigating.
& # 39; What is different? & # 39; asked interviewer Wolf Blitzer.
"Floyd was already subdued, handcuffed, and unarmed," Blake replied. In the Jacob case, he was about to commit a crime and he was armed. So that's a big difference. & # 39;
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced last week that Blake had a knife on the hallway of his car. Blake was approaching the car when he was shot.
Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake in this September 2019 selfie photo in Evanston, Illinois. He is recovering from being shot multiple times by Kenosha police on August 23
Protesters march toward the South Los Angeles Sheriffs' Station on September 1, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old black man, was killed by the Los Angeles Sheriff's MPs in southern Los Angeles. Protesters marched to South Los Angeles Sheriffs' Station to demonstrate for a second day after Kizzee was killed in an altercation after being stopped by police while riding a bicycle
Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who pleaded he could not breathe, in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25, 2020. Barr said there were big differences between the Floyd and Jacob Blake cases
Blake's family said he was not armed
CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Barr about the shooting and whether he believed there was "systemic racism" in police work. He said that there isn't
It's not clear that the officers responding to the incident knew Blake had a knife, the Milwaukee Journal reported Sentinel. Blake told the police about the knife after it was shot. They answered a call from his girlfriend.
The Blake family attorneys, Ben Crump, Patrick Salvi and B & # 39; Ivory Lamarr released a statement denying Barr's account.
& # 39; Attorney General Barr is misinformed. The police were the attackers from start to finish based on video and testimony, "they said.
“There was never a time when there was justification for deadly violence. In fact, innocent bystanders were in the line of fire when he shot seven times in Jacob's back, ”they continued. At all material times, Jacob's back was on the officers and he never posed an imminent threat. This was never a life or death situation for the officers. & # 39;
Local police union attorney Brendan Matthews said officers responded to a complaint that Blake attempted to steal the caller's keys and car and that Blake had an open warrant for sexual assault and three sexual assault-related offenses but all have now been dropped.
The dramatic video of the shooting shows Sheskey and another officer following Blake with guns drawn as the shooting takes place. It doesn't show Blake is holding a gun.
Blitzer noted to Barr that Blake's family had said he was unarmed.
"I stated what I think the difference is," Barr said without going any further.
Barr did not disclose what crime Blake had committed.
When asked about concerns about excessive violence, Barr said, “We have a process in this country to make this decision. We're investigating. That should follow due process and be fair to everyone, including the police officer. & # 39;
& # 39; Violence is not appropriate. Our judicial system needs to respond to reasoned analysis, not mob violence, ”Barr said.
He also denied claims of "systemic racism" made by the US police.
"There appears to be a phenomenon in the country where African Americans feel they are being treated when they are frequently stopped as suspects by the police before they are treated as citizens," Barr said. "I don't think this necessarily reflects deep-seated racism in police departments or most police officers."
He said the story that the police were in an epidemic of shooting unarmed black men was simply a false story. And also the narrative that this is based on race. & # 39;
"To me the word systemic means that it is built into the facility," Barr said, noting that there is built-in protection against racists in police departments.