(Reuters) - Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man whose shooting by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, reignited nationwide protests over racism and police brutality, pleaded not guilty on Friday to criminal charges filed prior to the shooting.
A complaint accuses Blake of criminal trespass, third-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct based on statements by his ex-girlfriend at the time, the mother of three of his children, who told police Blake broke into her home on May 3 and sexually assaulted her before stealing her truck and debit card.
Blake entered the plea through his lawyer during a livestreamed court hearing, his first public appearance since he was shot in the back by a white Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23.
Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting, was propped up in his hospital bed, dressed in a blue shirt and yellow tie, with his lawyer, Patrick Cafferty, sitting in a chair to his side.
Cafferty noted that Blake had been working as a painter and that he had no prior criminal record or convictions in any state.
Blake raised his hand to greet Loren Keating, a Kenosha County judicial court commissioner, when addressed, saying “Yes sir,” when asked if he could hear clearly and whether he understood the terms of his $10,000 signature bond.
“The state recognizes that these are serious charges but also that the defendant has serious injuries and he’s recovering at the hospital,” said Zeke Wiedenfeld, a prosecutor.
The court set trial to begin on Nov. 9 with jury selection. The complaint does not identify the ex-girlfriend by name.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Howard Goller
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