The city’s police chief also defends cops who let a vigilante walk free seconds after shooting two people on Tuesday.
Millions of people around the world have seen the video of a Kenosha police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man from Kenosha, seven times in the back at point-blank range on Sunday.
But Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, the top law enforcement official in the county, lied in a Friday press conference that he has not seen the recording.
Beth made the claim when a reporter asked him if he, as the county’s top cop, “saw any problem” with the way police handled the situation.
“I did not see the video,” Beth said.
When the reporter further pressed him and asked if he felt it was an issue he had not seen the video, Beth walked away from the conference podium.
In a video obtained by UpNorthNews, a group of protesters gathered Sunday at the scene of the shooting is seen confronting Beth. One of the demonstrators holds up their phone, and several point to the phone and tell Beth “there’s the video.”
Beth then watches the phone for 13 seconds. The original video is 18 seconds long.
“I hope he resigns tonight because of this,” said Kyle Flood, the Kenosha activist who filmed the video of Beth watching the shooting. “This is a blatant lie and breaks the trust of the community.”
The Friday conference was the first since the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday demanded Beth and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis’ resignation. On Thursday, Beth also said Tuesday night in Kenosha, when a vigilante militia member shot and killed two protesters, “wasn’t too bad.” Friday’s update was just the third media briefing Kenosha officials have held since Blake’s shooting set off protests and riots in the city.
Miskinis on Friday also defended local police officers who on Tuesday let the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, walk right past them—still armed with an AR-15—with his hands up just seconds after two people were shot. The chief said because there were so many armed militia men roaming the streets on Tuesday, “there was nothing to suggest” Rittenhouse should be stopped.
“Clearly they’re not seeing him as a suspect or a threat of any kind,” Miskinis said.
Miskinis denied that the officers had a lapse of judgment.
“Two weeks ago, my answer might have been different,” he said. “But right now, the totality of circumstances, nothing suggested this person or anybody else who was armed around them was the person.”
Beth also defended the officers on Wednesday, saying they might have had “tunnel vision.”
Also on Wednesday, Miskinis appeared to blame the victims in Tuesday’s shooting because they were out past the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.
“Persons who were out after the curfew became engaged in some type of disturbance, and persons were shot,” Miskinis said. “Everybody involved was out after the curfew.”
Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, blasted Beth and Miskinis in his call for them to resign.
“Their actions uphold and defend white supremacy, while demonizing people who were murdered for exercising their first amendment rights and speaking out against police violence,” Ott said.
Miskinis said Friday his words have been “misconstrued” and said the two people killed and one person injured were shot “senselessly.”
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said Friday he did not agree with the ACLU that Beth and Miskinis should resign or be removed from their positions.
Update: This story has been updated with a comment from Kyle Flood, the Kenosha activist who filmed Sheriff David Beth watching the Jacob Blake video.