AG William Barr says Jacob Blake shooting may have been justified

Barr called it 'a phenomenon' that Black people feel treated 'as suspects before they're treated as citizens.'

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Attorney General William Barr sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer for a highly-anticipated one-on-one interview yesterday.

When asked about the nationwide protests in response to the police killings of unarmed Black people in this country, Barr drew stark contrasts.

The attorney general said that he would not compare the shooting of Jacob Blake with the choking death of George Floyd, noting that both cases are under investigation.

“What’s different?” Blitzer asked.

“Floyd was already subdued, incapacitated in handcuffs and was not armed,” Barr responded, “In the Jacob [Blake] case, he was in the midst of committing a felony, and he was armed. So, that’s a big difference.”

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Attorney General William Barr, on systemic racism in America, told CNN “if anything has been built in, it’s a bias to nondiscrimination and safeguards against that.” (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Attorney Brendan Matthews, representing police union Kenosha Professional Police Association, said officers were responding to a dispatch reporting that Blake was trying to steal the caller’s keys and car and that he had an open warrant for third-degree sexual assault and misdemeanors related to that felony.

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.”

Read More: Jacob Blake’s uncle on Trump: ‘We don’t have any words for the orange man’

Barr said, as it relates to excessive force, “We have a process in this country to make that determination. We are investigating it. That should follow due process and be fair to everybody, including the police officer.”

“There appears to be a phenomenon in the country where African Americans feel that they’re treated, when they’re stopped by police frequently, as suspects before they’re treated as citizens,” Barr said. “I don’t think that that necessarily reflects some deep-seated racism in police departments or most police officers.”

Twitter responses to Barr’s interview with Blitzer, which covered a range of nationally-crucial issues, including systemic racism and mail-in voting in the presidential election this November, were sure and swift.

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