The family attorney for a Black man shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., said Tuesday he is paralyzed and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again.
Police were captured on cellphone video shooting Jacob Blake in the back on Sunday, igniting new protests over racial injustice in several cities, just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.
“They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter,” said Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake and who spoke to reporters alongside other family members and lawyers. “But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”
The 29-year-old was in surgery, said attorney Ben Crump, adding that the bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae.
Another family attorney said they would be filing a civil lawsuit against the police department over the shooting. Police have said little about what happened, other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating.
WATCH | Blake’s father talks to reporters about his son:
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency and said 250 members of the Wisconsin National Guard would be active in Kenosha after protesters destroyed more than 30 businesses during a night of violence on Monday.
Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said the damage in Kenosha does not reflect the feelings of her family and if her son could see it, he would be “very unpleased.”
WATCH | Blake’s mother talks about her son’s first words to her after the shooting:
Anger over the shooting 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 as he leaned into his SUV circulated widely on social media Sunday.
Three of the younger Blake’s sons — ages 3, 5 and 8 — were in the car at the time of the shooting, Crump said, noting it was the 8-year-old’s birthday.
Blake’s father is slated to speak at a March on Washington commemoration on Friday organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton. His father and the victim’s grandfather, Jacob Blake Sr., was a prominent minister and civil rights leader in the Chicago area in the 1960s.
Calls for peaceful protest
Evers called for protesters to be peaceful, a message echoed by Blake’s family.
“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue,” said Evers, who is facing mounting pressure from Republicans over his handling of the unrest that has followed the shooting. “We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”
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, also setting fire 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.
WATCH | Blake’s uncle says every Black parent dreads receiving the call his family received:
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, 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.”
Republican congressman whose district includes Kenosha:
My statement on the second night of violence in Kenosha: <a href=”https://t.co/G5YIXjzgG8″>pic.twitter.com/G5YIXjzgG8</a>
Police union says politicians rushed to judgment
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also weighed in Monday, saying the officers “must be held accountable.”
Republicans and the police union accused the politicians of rushing to judgment, reflecting the deep partisan divide in Wisconsin, a key presidential battleground state. Wisconsin Republican members also decried the violent protests, echoing the law-and-order theme that President Donald Trump has been using in his re-election campaign.
The shooting happened around 5 p.m. Sunday and was captured from across the street on the video posted online. Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.
WATCH | Cellphone video of the moments before Jacob Blake was shot in the back by police:
In the footage, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him while shouting with their guns pointed.
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, according to White, Blake drove up in his SUV and told his son, who was standing nearby, to get in the vehicle. White said Blake did not say anything to the women.
White said he left the window for a few minutes, and when he came back, he saw three officers wrestling with Blake. One punched Blake in the ribs, White said, and another used a stun gun on him. He said Blake got free and started walking away as officers yelled about a knife.
Victim’s children witnessed shooting
Crump has said Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.”
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, Ill., days after the 1968 slaying of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.