KENOSHA, Wis. — The father of a Black man who was shot, apparently in the back, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, says his son was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Jacob Blake’s father told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was told his son was shot eight times during the Sunday evening confrontation with police, which was captured on cellphone video and led to two nights of unrest in the city between Milwaukee and Chicago.
He said his son now has “eight holes” in his body,and is paralyzed from the waist down, though doctors don’t know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Anger over the shooting of a Black man by police spilled into the streets of Kenosha for a second night Monday, with police again firing tear gas at hundreds of protesters who defied a curfew, threw bottles and shot fireworks at law enforcement guarding the courthouse.
The southeastern Wisconsin city became the nation’s latest flashpoint in a summer of racial unrest after cellphone footage of police shooting Blake — apparently in the back as he leaned into his SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle — circulated widely on social media. The 29-year-old was hospitalized in serious condition.
— Kenosha Police Dept. (@KenoshaPolice) August 25, 2020
The shooting drew condemnation from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who also called out 125 members of the National Guard on Monday after protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear the previous night.
Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect to disperse protesters who chanted, “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance. But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including to a garbage truck near the courthouse.
Police in the former auto manufacturing centre of 100,000 people midway between Milwaukee and Chicago said they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake on Sunday. They did not say whether Blake was armed or why police opened fire, they released no details on the dispute, and they did not immediately disclose the race of the three officers at the scene.
The man who said he made the cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.
The governor said he has seen no information to suggest Blake had a knife or other weapon, but that the case is still being investigated by the state Justice Department.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in a shooting by police. Authorities released no details about the officers and did not immediately respond to requests for their service records.
Evers was quick to condemn the bloodshed, saying that while not all details were known, “what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the officers “must be held accountable.”
“This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” he said, just over two months before Election Day in a country already roiled by the recent deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. “Those shots pierce the soul of our nation.”
In the footage, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns pointed and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned. Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Blake or how many officers fired.
White, who said he made the video, said that before the gunfire, he looked out his window and saw six or seven women shouting at each other on the sidewalk. A few moments later, Blake drove up in his SUV and told his son, who was standing nearby, to get in the vehicle, according to White. White said Blake did not say anything to the women.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing Blake’s family, said Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.”
LISTEN: Crump says Blake’s family, including his children, are devastated by the senseless act.
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 24, 2020
Police did not immediately confirm either man’s account.
Blake’s partner, Laquisha Booker, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that the couple’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him.
“That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him. With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming,” Booker said.
Blake’s grandfather, Jacob Blake Sr., was a prominent minister and civil rights leader in the Chicago area who helped organize a march and spoke in support of a comprehensive housing law in Evanston, Illinois, days after the 1968 slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press reporters Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin, Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis, Aaron Morrison in New York City and Mike Householder in Kenosha contributed.
Mike Householder And Tammy Webber, The Associated Press