Jacob Blake: Man 'paralysed' after being shot by police in front of kids

·3-min read

The lawyer for a Black man who was shot by police says he is now paralysed from the waist down.

The shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on Sunday in Kenosha, in the US state of Wisconsin, was captured on video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities.

It came just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.

Jacob Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake, said his son was shot seven times.

Adria-Joi Watkins poses with her second cousin Jacob Blake.
Jacob Blake with his second cousin Adria-Joi Watkins last year. Source: AAP

“They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter,” he said.

“But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”

His lawyer, Ben Crump, said the bullets severed Mr Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae.

“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr to ever walk again,” Mr Crump said.

Three of the younger Mr Blake’s sons — aged 3, 5 and 8 — were in the car at the time of the shooting, Mr Crump said. He added it was the eight-year-old’s birthday.

Another Blake family lawyer 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.

The man who said he made the video of the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Mr 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 Mr Blake’s hands.

Jacob Blake is shot by police in a video still of the incident.
A video still of the incident when Jacob Blake is shot by police. Source: Twitter

In the footage, Mr Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him.

As Mr Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Mr Blake has his back turned. Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Mr Blake or how many officers fired.

Since the shooting, anger has spilled onto the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin’s capital of Madison and in Minneapolis, the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter movement following Mr Floyd’s death.

After a night during which protests devolved into unrest, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called for calm, while also saying the National Guard presence would be doubled from 125 to 250 in Kenosha.

Crowds destroyed dozens of buildings and set more than 30 fires on Monday night.

Hundreds of protesters defied an 8pm curfew on Monday night, massing in downtown Kenosha, where they were met by a wall of law enforcement officers, including 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard.

A man looks over caution tape during a second night of rioting on in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
A man looks over caution tape as Kenosha burns during riots. Source: Getty Images

Some clashed with officers and vandalised businesses. There were 34 fires associated with the unrest, with 30 businesses destroyed or damaged along with an unknown number of residences, Kenosha Fire Chief Charles Leipzig told the Kenosha News.

One of the buildings destroyed was the Wisconsin Department of Corrections’ probation and parole office. Most staff had already transitioned to working remotely, and all essential operations are continuing, said department spokeswoman Anna Neal.

A city block was cordoned off on Tuesday so officials could survey damage. Smoke filled the air and visibility was low as firefighters used water cannons on still smouldering buildings.

Mr Blake’s mother Julia Jackson said the damage in Kenosha did not reflect the feelings of her family and if her son could see it, he would be “very unpleased”.

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