arrest, DCI, deadly force, Jacob Blake, Karambit, Kenosha WI, resisting arrest, Rusten Sheskey, Star Trek Phasers, Tasers, Tueller Drill, violent felonies
By now, gentle readers, I’m sure you’ve read quite a bit on the shooting of Jacob Blake. If all you read was from the Lamestream Media, you’d think Blake—an unarmed father of six–was shot in the back 7 TIMES!!!!!, and ruthlessly murdered by racist cops in front of his children for no reason at all because RAAAAAAACISM! As usual, the truth is apparently quite different, because rational people believe in the truth because it’s factual, unchanging, not because it reinforces a preconceived narrative. Blake did not die, but is apparently paralyzed.
In this article, I’ll not spend a great deal of time rehashing every second of the encounter. That’s been done, and it’s unnecessary for our purposes. As always, please keep in mind I don’t have the police reports, blood test on Blake, or any of the other evidence. I’m working from my experiences as a police officer, and with the material I’ve been able to find from a variety of previously reliable sources. That said, it appears the officers were justified in everything they did, including shooting Blake.
Let us go to a statement of facts released by the Kenosha Police Union. I’ll add clarifying comments as we go:
The officers were dispatched to the location due to a complaint that Mr. Blake was attempting to steal the caller’s keys/vehicle.
Officers were aware of Mr. Blake’s open warrant for felony sexual assault (3rd degree) before they arrived on scene.
I’m not sure why the Union didn’t mention this, but the woman who called the police was the victim in the aforementioned sexual assault case. She had a protection order; Blake was violating the law by being present. Most importantly, Blake was not only committing that misdemeanor offense, he was wanted for a violent felony, which the officers knew before arriving.
Mr. Blake was not breaking up a fight between two females when officers arrived on scene.
The silver SUV seen in the widely circulated video was not Mr. Blake’s vehicle.
The vehicle was apparently owned by the woman he is accused of raping, and several of her children—I’m not sure if they were biologically his—were in the vehicle.
Mr. Blake was not unarmed. He was armed with a knife. The officers did not see the knife initially. The officers first saw him holding the knife while they were on the passenger side of the vehicle. The ‘main’ video circulating on the Internet shows Mr. Blake with the knife in his left hand when he rounds the front of the car. The officers issued repeated commands for Mr. Blake to drop the knife. He did not comply.
The person who produced the video heard the officers clearly order Blake to drop the knife at least twice. The blown up screenshot above shows a knife, apparently with a black, curved blade. It’s difficult to be sure, but from that screenshot, it appears Blake was carrying a type of knife known as a Karambit, an Indonesian fighting knife.
Various D/S/Cs have said “other than the knife, he was unarmed!” I’ll explain why that’s incredibly stupid nonsense shortly.
The officers initially tried to speak with Mr. Blake, but he was uncooperative.
The officers then began issuing verbal commands to Mr. Blake, but he was non-complaint.
The officers next went ‘hands-on’ with Mr. Blake, so as to gain compliance and control.
We’re not sure if the officers told Blake he was under arrest at that point, and if not, some will surely whine that means he has a “get out of jail free” card. Nonsense. While it’s always best to tell someone they’re under arrest, in most states it is not a necessity. In fact, an arrest occurs when a reasonable person would believe they were not free to go. Having two officers trying to put handcuffs on one would tend to provoke that understanding. There can be no doubt Blake knew he was being arrested.
Mr. Blake actively resisted the officers’ attempt to gain compliance.
Resisting arrest is a felony in Wisconsin. By this point, Blake was under arrest for at least two felonies and one misdemeanor. No police officer could allow him to simply walk away without being grossly negligent and potentially losing their career.
The officers then disengaged and drew their tasers, issuing commands to Mr. Blake that he would be tased if he did not comply.
Based on his non-compliance, one officer tased Mr. Blake. The taser did not incapacitate Mr. Blake.
What?! That’s impossible! Here, gentle readers, we encounter what I have come to call the SPOIT Factor, the Sober Police Officers In Training Factor. The techniques and tools demonstrated in clean, dry, well-lit conditions during training tend to work well indeed. They work because the officers applying the techniques or tools don’t want to injure their coworkers, and the officers playing bad guy don’t want to be injured. However, out in the real world, where bad guys are overflowing with adrenaline, rage, and a wide variety of recreational drugs in every combination imaginable, absolutely surefire, make them fall down and beg to be arrested tools and techniques often fail miserably, including Tasers. Tasers do have some effect on many people, but not all. They’re surely better than nothing, but they’re not infallible.
The officers once more went “hands-on” with Mr. Blake; again, trying to gain control of the escalating situation.
Mr. Blake forcefully fought with the officers, including putting one of the officers in a headlock.
Mr. Blake has just added felony assault on a police officer. We can reasonably believe he has assaulted both officers at this point.
A second taser (from a different officer than had deployed the initial taser) was then deployed on Mr. Blake. It did not appear to have any impact on him.
We might presume both sets of Taser barbs simply failed to penetrate Blake’s clothing or did not embed in his skin. Tasers are not like Star Trek Phasers. They use a small explosive charge to shoot two barbs attached to thin wires. If the barbs embed in the skin, the officer is able to hit the bad buy with a high volt, low amp charge. If one barb fails to penetrate, no charge/no effect. However, in this case, it appears the ranges were very short, and Blake was wearing only a sleeveless undershirt, making two failures to embed unlikely. The most likely factor? Blake was very high on something, or several somethings. It will be interesting to find out the results of blood tests.
Based on the inability to gain compliance and control after using verbal, physical and less-lethal means, the officers drew their firearms.
This too is a little odd. Obviously, two Taser failures would have told the officers they weren’t going to arrest Blake that way, and their threat level indicators would surely have risen dramatically. It has been established that Blake admitted to “having a knife in his possession,” and we know a knife, description unknown, was found on the driver’s floorboard of the car. However, the aforementioned screenshot appears to show a knife in Blake’s left hand as he and the officers round the front of the SUV.
The union account indicates the officers first saw the knife when Blake was on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. This would make sense. Breaking free of the officers, Blake was finally able to draw the knife, which is when the officers would have seen it, and that was the cause of their drawn handguns. Simultaneously, they would have ordered him to drop the knife, as apparently multiple witnesses have testified.
Mr. Blake continued to ignore the officers’ commands, even with the threat of lethal force now present.
Officer Sheskey tried to stop Blake from entering the car, and with the car door between the camera and Blake, we can’t be sure exactly what caused Sheskey to shoot. Here’s my best guess: he saw and/or felt Blake begin to turn, and/or Blake said something to him that indicated he was going to attack. Blake dropped the knife on the floor of the car when shot.
But he was only armed with a knife, and his back was turned. The officers had guns! Why didn’t they just wrestle with him or something? Because the officers know something most people don’t know: Someone armed with a knife is deadly to a minimum of 21 feet, perhaps even more, as practical experience demonstrates that even an average person with a knife can close 21 feet before they can be shot and/or stopped by a handgun-wielding victim. Practicing for this possibility is commonly known as the Tueller Drill. Officers are commonly amazed to discover how quickly that distance can be traversed, and a knife plunged into them or their throat cut. By all means take the link and read the related article, which is an interview of Dennis Tueller himself.
Every police officer is aware of this. It’s taught in every basic academy, and demonstrated repeatedly. Handguns are not Star Trek phasers that immediately disable or disintegrate bad guys with a single impact. A knife wielding attacker within 21 feet or more can easily kill you, even if you manage to get a bullet or two into him in the process. In this case, Blake was closer than at arm’s length.
My favorite Bookworm added this:
The issue isn’t whether Blake was armed. The issue was whether the police, in the second before they opened fire, had a reasonable belief that he could and would shoot them. On the facts, their belief was completely reasonable. Blake was wanted on a warrant, he had a history of sexual assault, he had a history of threatening people with weapons, he’d just violently resisted arrested (whether with a knife or not does not matter), he’d apparently proven resistant to the taser, he was ignoring orders to stop, and he was reaching into the car.
Very close, but not quite complete. We can be sure the officers knew Blake was armed with a knife. He was wanted on a violent felony, and committed multiple felonies by attacking/resisting the officers. A knife is more than sufficiently deadly at those ranges, and with what is currently known, there appears to be no gun threat. The issue actually is, would a reasonable police officer, in the same situation, believe they were in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death?
If they were, they are justified in shooting to end that imminent threat. They are not required, by law or common sense, to wait for Blake to turn around so he would be more effective in maiming or killing them, and they are allowed to shoot as many times as necessary to stop the threat. If the threat is ended with a single shot, great. If it take 20, that too is lawful, as long as a reasonable police officer would have believed the criteria for the use of deadly force were present. Those seven rounds were not fired over a minute or two, but continuously, within seconds.
I recently explained the criteria in “Mostly Peaceful Protesters” And Deadly Force. Take the link for that information, but keep in mind these factors: The “innocence” factor really doesn’t apply here as the officers were called to the scene and were making a lawful arrest of a wanted felon, using appropriately escalating force. “Avoidance” likewise doesn’t really apply. The officers could not simply walk away, or let Blake drive away. He was wanted on a felony warrant, committed multiple felonies on their persons, and allowing him to drive away would have been auto theft, and there were several minors in the car.
But he shot them in front of his children! That was entirely Blake’s choice. There is every reason to believe if Blake followed the officer’s lawful orders, he would have been arrested without incident, and no one would have been harmed.
The final three factors—Imminence, Proportionality and Reasonableness–will determine the outcome of the case. Remember: the final factor will not be a reasonable citizen, but a reasonable police officer, because they have experience and training citizens do not. In effect, the threshold is higher for the police.
Final Thoughts: From all that is publically known, it appears the officers were justified in everything they did. They escalated force in response to Blake’s actions, using every tool/technique reasonably available to them before resorting to handguns. The Kenosha Police Department is handling the matter professionally. Unlike in many contemporaneous cases, the officers were not immediately fired and arrested, and the state Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the case, and apparently doing a professional job. Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s Governor and Lt. Governor have behaved shamefully, and stirred the racial pot to boiling. Their foolish actions alone—they’re Democrats, of course—suggest this case may be judged politically rather than lawfully.
Ten years ago, it would not be a close call. The officers would be given the benefit of the doubt—not that one is needed in this case—and the shooting would be ruled justified. Now however, the officers had the great misfortune to be forced to shoot a black felon. Their misfortune is compounded by the fact they’re both white. There is, in this case, not the slightest tint of racism. There is no reason whatever to believe the officers would have acted differently were Blake white or any other color of the rainbow.
For an interesting perspective, and the video of the shooting, take this link, where a former police officer, who happens to be black, explains the shooting. For the moment, we must wait for the results of the DCI’s investigation, and hope that actual justice, not social, racial justice, prevails.
One thing is clear: should the officers be cleared, as the available evidence strongly suggests they must be, there will be more rioting, lawsuits and general chaos, and the Governor and Lt. Governor of the state will bear much of the blame, which is the status quo in Democrat ruled cities/states circa 2020.
UPDATE, 09-03-20, 1730 MT: The photos that follow were provided by a reader, who notes the photo of Jacob Blake wearing a tactical vest with what is surely a Karambit–apparently a Rough Ryder G10, a folding knife–is very hard to find, and most they were able to find were cropped to remove the distinctive knife from the photo:
A Rough Ryder G10:
In this screenshot, the knife is clearer, as its black blade is contrasted by Blake’s white T-shirt:
In this screenshot, the knife is clearer still:
There would appear to be no doubt whatsoever the Blake was armed, and with a particularly dangerous knife. Virtually all knives are potentially deadly, but an entire school of martial arts is built around the Karambit, and many wannabe commandos buy them because they look mean. We do not know if Blake was trained in the use of this knife, but any police officer seeing it in a criminal’s hand would have to approach them as though they were trained and skilled in its use. Note how close both officers were to Blake throughout the entire encounter.
Thanks again to the reader who provided these updated screenshots.
UPDATE, 09-09-20, 2100 MT: Jacob Blake is a felon and accused rapist, yet the Democrat vice presidential candidate said this after visiting him:
Let’s review, gentle readers: the woman Blake–a black man–allegedly raped is black. Blake is a felon who resisted arrest, and while holding a vicious fighting knife, forced a police officer to shoot him. Wasn’t the D/S/C Party supposed to be all about women? Wasn’t it supposed to be all about Black Lives Matter? Apparently not if the felon accused of raping one of those female black lives is politically useful. Oh yes, and Kamala “comma-la” Harris is also black, or Indian, or whatever is most politically useful at the moment. Can you say “hypocrisy?” I knew you could.
I love your writings, but you missed one highly relevant fact here. He was, with a knife, trying to get into a vehicle, not his, that had the three children of the woman who had had the restraining order issued against him, and who had just called the police on him. The shoot decision was not only reasonable, it was necessary, to prevent the children from becoming at risk. God help the officer live with this, but he made the correct decision.
Mike McDaniel said:
Thanks! And I believe I did mention there were kids in the vehicle. That alone would not be sufficient cause for deadly force. Be back tomorrow when I’ll explain in detail in a new article. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts about that one.
I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. I suspect the officer’s decision at that moment hinged on defense of others.
Mike McDaniel said:
I suspect we’ll eventually find that was a secondary factor.
I am not anti-cop by any stretch nor do I accuse any of being overtly racist. But any time one of these videos ends up on the news I find myself questioning from the video alone on how far does the “end always justifies the means” in policing. Black or white suspects, the public didn’t start questioning police tactics until everyone had the capacity to video at a moments notice and have a record. Honestly.. I watch these things and I ask myself… “And how long has stuff like this been unknowingly going on in society before video recording?”
Interesting how the general public fears a cop responding to a call or pulling them over, but the “bad” guys don’t. The “bad” guys are always hyped up on drugs that turn them into super human adrenaline zombies that can absorb repeated taser shocks with no affect, and can absorb a barrage of bullets into the torso without flinching. Which all that means… killing is justified.
Look at the last photo you posted showing the double image. Not sure what transpired between the image on the left to the one on the right to cause the cop to shoot point blank. Seems to me in the image on the left the cop could have shot the suspect in the knee. But then we have the idea that all “bad” guys are hopped up on super human chemicals. But.. hey.. what do I know.. I was never a cop so I obviously don’t understand the “real” world of policing. Then there’s the reliable… “Cops are bad shots so shooting to wound makes no sense cause they will miss an appendage. Oh.. and a “bad” guy with a busted kneecap could also be on drugs, thus able to act like a superman and attack the cop.”
I’m not even looking at racism here.. just seemingly “odd” technique for what appears to not be a threat to justify deadly force. Like Floyd trying to breath and the cop could care less regarding his pleas. Floyd was on drugs.
Again.. what do I or the public know about policing? We should just shut up. The “peaceful” streets justify the means.
You ask what changed between the left frame and the right frame. In the image on the left, he wasn’t presenting an imminent threat, he was running away. If he had kept running straight away from the van, even with a knife, it would be arguable whether deadly force was justified, as there was no imminent threat, thus no shooting him in the knee. The officers properly held off on shooting. In the image on the right, Blake, with a knife, is trying to get into a vehicle containing three small children. The threat isn’t just to the officers, it is also to the children. The threat to the children is imminent, and deadly force was justified.
The point seems to be.. a fair amount of things cops do are justified, which we assume has been the result of decades of field evaluation and mostly legal interpretation to get the job done and not violate rights. Honestly, for as close as the cop was when grabbing the tee shirt.. the cop easily could have grabbed the guy around the neck and go to the ground.. the other cops participating at that point. Again.. all second guessing, armchair after-the-fact. BTW.. the kids were in the back seat and it looks like a four door. How immediate was the threat to them at that point?
Mike McDaniel said:
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we have only a poorly formed video and some media stories. The real issues will be resolved in interviews with the officers and other witnesses. As to shooting to wound, I’ll be addressing this tomorrow in a separate article. I trust you’ll find it enlightening. As to the end justifying the means, we pay officers to affect the means we all desire and need, but expect them to achieve them within the law. When they don’t, the solution is dealing with the individuals involved, not abolishing the police. Regarding Floyd, I suspect we’re going to find the officers in that case exonerated, because they did not cause Floyd’s death and were, in fact, employing tactics specifically taught and approved by their agency.
Regarding Floyd.. regardless if all their tactics were approved by the Pope himself… he was pleading, the cop(s) did nothing except continue to restrain him, whether they called for paramedics or not moments before. I rather thought the cop(s) just didn’t believe him, thinking he was high on something.
I am reminded of the California security guard certification test that turns minimum wage earners into.. “professionals” (that’s a whole other story). Once you restrained a subject with handcuffs you were immediately responsible for the subject’s safety and well-being. Seems to me restraining by any means would require the same moral obligation.
Mike McDaniel said:
Police officers have to go on what they observe and their experience. If I had a dollar for every perp I arrested to faked a medical condition, even fake fainting and holding their breath, I would have retired long ago. They had not way to know what Floyd ingested. And they did call for medical help, several times. As far as doing what they’re trained and ordered to do, that absolutely a matter of benefit of the doubt. One doesn’t change the rules after the touchdown, so to speak.
Dear master troll Doug, my man:
I love your “toss out a word salad generously seasoned with
caveats” tactic. Say thank you to those who consented to, or were
lured into, finding something intelligible there, allowing you then to
proceed as though you had offered a credible and thoughtful counter
to Mike’s article.
Well done Master Troll
Your little trollop, Dug
Isn’t there an old phrase that says ” if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword”?
Mike McDaniel said:
Old Barn said:
The Blake situation is an even easier call, rationally, than the Floyd one, but even with Floyd, I told my wife and child, who were in seeming disbelief at what the initial video showed, do not be surprised if the force being applied was not what it seemed and that the officer did not cause Floyd’s death; that, in addition to whether the officer may have done what his training said was to be done. I was reserving judgment, not because I believe officer’s do no wrong, it’s just the lawyer in me. And I had a hard time believing an officer intent on harm would have had the look of the officer who was holding Floyd down; something looked sufficiently amiss to warrant a suspension of opinion, much less drawing a conclusion. I hate it that the officer may not receive a fair trial, something which everyone who is charged ought to receive. Yes, that’s moral language, which happens to undergird the legal right.
Unlike with Floyd, Blake’s situation appears to be more straightforward, though I would again not firmly conclude until more is in. The suggestion of alternatives is grasping at straws in my opinion; no person, much less an officer, should have to confront potentially deadly force under the premise that any close call will go to the threat. Perhaps the officer in Blake’s situation was supposed to dive onto Blake’s back, and wait for the other officer to handle the shooting in the millisecond before Blake turned and plunged the knife into him. Clearly since he was not stopped by all the shots fired, that quick shot would have incapacitated him and all would be well. And we would have had no riots I am sure. Or perhaps the officers should have know they would have been hailed as hero’s after Blake drove off and was in an accident causing the death of the children in the back seat. Again, I am sure no one would have thought to contend that riots were appropriate because the officers only let him do that cause he was black, they would have stopped a white man and saved the children.
I listen to no more excuses; I listen to the lying media as little as I must to discern what I must (it is getting easier to read between the lines regarding what the media is not saying); I merely await the facts, which may be looooooong in coming. And, as imperfect as it is, I trust the justice system to work, but also know we must keep a close eye on it to insure that everyone does his or her job, that truth is kept foremost, and that the law is properly understood and applied, regardless of who “wins.” We must also, of course, continue to try and improve that system (read Mike’s book if you need a primer for why); bad apples with sufficient intent and means could mess up even a perfectly designed and operating system.
Appreciate the work Mike. Your insights are of great value, as is your sense of humor on the Sunday funnies.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Old Barn:
Well said, and thanks for your kind words.
Elmer Fudd said:
You live in a fantasy land. I’ve gone hand to knife against someone. Although I won using a technique to disarm him that broke his arm, then broke his other arm just because he pissed me off, it was most unfun. If I had had a gun, I would have shot him. Wrestling someone who is armed with a knife is an extremely quick way to get killed.
I think that society is degenerating to the point that police need to be racist top survive. Cops should adopt a policy to never, ever intervene in a crime of the perpetrator and the victim are Black. Cops should be relevant to intervene if the victim is White and the perpetrator is Black or vice versa. The conventional rules of engagement should apply only to white on white crime. This will of course result on a massive surge in violent crime.
Think of it as evolution in action.
I actually respect what you said there, Mr. Fudd. In fact, I actually understand what you say here……….
“I think that society is degenerating to the point that police need to be racist to survive.”
That tends to support the idea that perhaps the population has reached a level where we are expecting far too much super-human effort from police, when in fact police are also human.. and not Robocops and not perfect, even with all the training they get. That’s not one bit meant to diminish their individual commitment to serve and protect. I said earlier, to me it’s not about racism but the constant need to respond to a call with the anticipation of using blunt force.. arriving on the scene and having to calm down, rather than responding calmly to a scene and ramping up if necessary. Honestly, if I were a cop I’d be worrying that the next call might be my last and approach a scene cautious as hell, wondering if it’s a cop killer ambush or an unpredictable drugged up psycho with an AR who is pissed at his wife and is looking for suicide-by-cop.
What I am saying is that maybe we need to take a good look at what we expect cops to do and how much of that is humanly unrealistic.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Elmer Fudd:
Cops don’t need to be racist, but what they need to be–aware of the dangers of their jurisdiction–will forevermore be called racist by actual racists that want to destroy the country and rule the rubble. An officer working a high crime district where most of the criminals are black, and prey on the honest black people of that district, would be a fool not to be suspicious of young black males in virtually any situation. Expect the worst, but be open to being pleasantly surprised. This isn’t racism, it’s what we pay them to do so we can sleep peaceably in our beds at night. An officer working a majority white district should be reasonably suspicious of young white males, and so on.
Mike McDaniel said:
Dear Elmer Fudd:
As you know, too many people are caught up in Hollywood fantasies about going unarmed against a knife. Tackling anyone with a knife, highly skilled or not, is a very good way to lose most of your blood in a hurry. No one should ever underestimate the lethal potential of edged weapons. Prior to the invention of gunpowder, they killed millions, and they kill many today.
I’m sorry but going to have to disagree with you about Floyd. I believe the officers’ actions were justified up until Floyd lost consciousness and was thus no longer a threat. Chauvin then continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck and the others on his back for about 5 more minutes until EMS arrived. There is no logical reason I can think of to continue applying a neck restraint once someone is clearly out unless you’re purposefully trying to finish them off. Floyd”s arms were also already cuffed behind his back so it would easier said than done for him to even get off his stomach without being stopped quickly and easily.
Mike McDaniel said:
I’m not sure. We don’t know what the officers knew and when they knew it. From what is known, they were applying exactly the measures they had been taught and told to employ. We’ll have to wait until we have more information to make any reasonably informed judgement. What does appear certain at this point is Floyd died from a self administered overdose of multiple illicit drugs, and it’s likely there was nothing the officers could have done, or failed to do, that would have changed the outcome.
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