Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin

By Jeff Truesdell
August 25, 2020 11:12 AM
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Jacob Blake

Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting Sunday by a police officer in front of three of his children in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was witnessed by millions on a viral video, is paralyzed from the waist down as he continues to recover, according to his father.

“What justified all those shots?” his father, Jacob Blake Sr., told the Chicago Sun-Times. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”

Doctors have not told the family whether the paralysis is permanent, but the father, who was traveling Monday from Charlotte, North Carolina, to be with his son, says Blake, 29, has "eight holes" in his body from the shooting.

“I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,” his father said. “I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.”

Police and protesters clashed for a second night on Monday in Kenosha as local authorities remained tight-lipped about the investigation into what happened, and the family of the victim continued to urge calm.

The widely shared video of the incident appears to show two officers following Blake, one with his gun raised and pointed, as Blake walks away from them and prepares to enter a vehicle. When Blake moves around the front of the vehicle, then opens the driver's side door and leans inside, at least seven gunshots are heard.

Jacob Blake, at center

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Blake's family, wrote on Twitter that Blake's three sons were inside the car when their father was shot.

"They saw a cop shoot their father. They will be traumatized forever. We cannot let officers violate their duty to PROTECT us. Our kids deserve better!!" Crump wrote.

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A statement from Kenosha police says the shooting occurred after officers responded to a domestic incident, but gives no further details. The Kenosha News reports at least six witnesses said Blake had tried to break up a fight between two women, and that police had tried to use a Taser on him before the shooting.

The unnamed officers involved in the shooting were put on administrative leave, and the investigation has been turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation.

Family Urges Peaceful Protests

"We want justice, and we're going to get justice. We're going to demand justice," Blake's uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN on Monday. "But we're going to do that without tearing up our communities."

Protest in Wisconsin after Kenosha shooting
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers condemned the shooting, saying in a statement that Blake "was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight."

"While we do not have all of the details yet, 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," Evers added.

"We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna TaylorTony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith," added Evers. "And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites."

Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha Professional Police Association, termed the governor's comments about the incident "wholly irresponsible and not reflective of the hardworking members of the law enforcement community," but endorsed the state justice department's independent investigation.

"Anytime deadly force is used, our hearts go out to those affected by it," Deates said in his statement. "Until that investigation is completed, we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please let process take place."

Blake's father said his son, a father of six children between ages three and 13, grew up a “happy little dude” in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and moved in middle school to Evanston, Illinois, where Jacob Blake's grandfather, The Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., advocated for affordable housing and pastored the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Jacob Blake has lived in Kenosha for about three years, said his father.

“If you were in need of something and my son had it, he would not hesitate to give it to you,” his father said. “He’s a very giving individual.”

The officers who shot Blake were “the flint as well as the gasoline,” igniting the violence that has unfolded over two nights in Kenosha, said his father.

“Those police officers that shot my son like a dog in the street are responsible for everything that has happened in the city of Kenosha,” he said. “My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”

A GoFundMe page has been launched be benefit Blake.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

•Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.