Jacob Blake makes first court appearance via video from hospital bed

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Jacob Blake appeared in court Friday via video for the first time since he was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wisc., police officer, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

From his hospital bed, Blake pleaded not guilty to a previous felony, third-degree sexual assault, as well as misdemeanor criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

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Blake, 29, is accused in court documents of sexually assaulting a woman in her home on May 3, stealing her Ford Explorer and debit card, and making two fraudulent ATM withdrawals for $500, WGN9 reported.

Blake has drawn national attention after cell phone footage captured the moment he was shot in the back seven times by police on Aug. 23 as officers responded to a woman reporting domestic abuse.

Blake was attempting to break up a dispute when police arrived, according to his attorney, Ben Crump.

But police say the initial 911 call was about Blake, who was reportedly attempting to take keys to a vehicle that wasn’t his. Responding officers said they were aware that Blake had an open warrant for sexual assault, according to local news outlet WBAY.

In this photo from Kenosha County Court video, Jacob Blake, bottom, right, answers questions during a hearing Friday, Sept. 4. 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Kenosha County Court via AP)

In this photo from Kenosha County Court video, Jacob Blake, bottom, right, answers questions during a hearing Friday, Sept. 4. 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Kenosha County Court via AP)

The shooting sparked protests and riots in Kenosha, following months of nationwide demonstrations after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody. Video in that case showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.

Blake’s shooting has further heightened tensions nationwide, with President Trump accusing racial justice demonstrators of lawless behavior and Democrats accusing the White House of stoking the violence.

Trump visited Kenosha this week to thank law enforcement and assess the damage from sometimes violent protests, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden met with Blake’s family and demanded that the officer who shot Blake be fired.

During Friday’s hearing, the judge approved a $10,000 signature bond for Blake, who remains hospitalized. Under the bail agreement, he can only leave Wisconsin for medical treatment.

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A pre-trial conference has been set for Oct. 21, with jury selection slated for Nov. 9.

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