Jacob Blake has released his first public statement after being shot in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Blake, 29, spoke out from his hospital bed in a video message released on Saturday by his attorney Ben Crump.
'I just want to say, man – a lot of young cats out there and even the older ones, older than me, it's a lot more life to live out here man,' Blake said in the video.
'Your life, and not only just your life, your legs, something you need to move around and forward in life, can be taken from you like this, man,' he said, snapping his fingers.
'And I promise you the type of s**t you go through, staples, I got staples in my back, staples in my damn stomach, you do not want to deal with this s**t, man. Twenty-four hours, every twenty-four hours it's pain, nothing but pain,' Blake continued.
He added: 'It hurts to breathe, it hurts to sleep, it hurts to move from side-to-side, it hurts to eat. Please, I'm telling you, change your lives. Stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people out there, man, because there's so much time that's been wasted.'
It is his first statement to the public since he was shot on August 23 by police responding to a domestic complaint 911 call, as he opened the door to a vehicle and leaned inside.
However, Blake also appeared in court via a Zoom call on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal trespass, sexual assault, and disorderly conduct.
The shooting of Blake has kicked off weeks of tense, and sometimes violent, protests in Kenosha, and renewed protests over racial injustice and police conduct nationwide.
Police responded to a 911 from a former girlfriend of Blake, who said that he was not permitted on her premises, and had taken her car keys and refused to give them back.
Responding officers were notified that Blake had an active arrest warrant, based on charges of third-degree sexual assault filed by the former girlfriend.
Police had deployed tasers on Blake, which seemingly had no effect, and were seen on bystader video physically grappling with him.
Then, Kenosha police officer officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven times, striking Blake four times, as Blake opened the door to an SUV and reached inside.
Prosecutors say that a knife was recovered on the driver-side front floorboard of the car, where Blake was leaning, sparking debate over whether he was holding or reaching for the knife.
US Attorney General Bill Barr said this week that Blake was was committing a felony and armed at the time he was shot.
Lawyers for the Blake family Ben Crump, Patrick Salvi, and B'Ivory Lamarr released a statement disputing Barr's account.
'Attorney General Barr is misinformed. The police officers were the aggressors from start to finish, based on video and witness accounts,' they said.
'There was never any point in time when there was justification for deadly force. In fact, there were innocent bystanders in the line of fire when he shot seven times into Jacob's back,' they continued.
'At all material times, Jacob's back was to the officers and he never posed an imminent threat. This was never a life or death situation for the officers.'
Dramatic video of the shooting shows Sheskey and another officer following Blake with guns drawn when the shooting occurs. In the video, a knife cannot be seen in Blake's hand, which disappears from view as he reaches into the vehicle.
Neither Sheskey nor the other officers present at the scene have been charged or fired from the department, but the incident is under investigation.
Kenosha police referred the investigation of the shooting to the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation.
Those findings will go to district attorney Michael D. Graveley, the local official who will responsible for deciding whether to bring charges against any of the officers.
Graveley said on August 25 that the investigation was in 'its earliest stages.'
The renewed protests sparked by Blake's shooting come in the closing phase of the presidential election, and the incident emerged a a flashpoint in the race.
This week, both President Donald Trump, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, a former senator and vice president, visited Kenosha.
Biden met with Blake's family and spoke with Blake on the telephone and has expressed sympathy with people protesting police violence and their rallying cry that 'Black Lives Matter.'
Trump toured damaged businesses, decried what he calls 'lawless' protesters and defended police departments as upholders of 'law and order,' while declining to condemn right-wing armed vigilantes who have been accused of attacking and even killing protesters in Kenosha.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.