Jacob Blake, the black man shot in the back by Wisonsin police as his three young sons watched on, is now paralyzed from the waist down after his body was riddled with bullets, his father says.
Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his 29-year-old son now has ‘eight holes’ in his body after being gunned down by police in Kenosha on Sunday evening.
The elder Blake said his son is paralyzed from the waist down but doctors do not yet know if the paralysis will be permanent.
Blake is now in a stable condition in hospital after undergoing surgery.
It comes after the emergence of a second video, which was taken from a different angle to the initial cellphone footage, that appears to show Blake wrestling with officers in the lead up to the shooting.
Both videos capture Blake walking to the driver’s side of his SUV and opening the door when the officer started shooting.
Blake’s father said he learned Sunday night that officers had shot his son and that he saw the now-viral cellphone video of the incident online just a few minutes later. Blake’s father is driving from Charlotte, North Carolina to Wisconsin to be by his son’s side in hospital.
‘What justified all those shots?’ his father said. ‘What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?
‘I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK. I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.’
After the first video went viral on social media, a second cellphone video emerged that appeared to show Blake wrestling with at least two officers beside the SUV prior to the shooting.
Blake managed to break free and was shown in the video walking to the driver’s side of his SUV.
Both videos show the moment Blake walked from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door while officers followed him with their guns pointed as they shouted at him.
As Blake opened the door and leaned into the SUV where his three children – aged 8, 5 and 3 – were, an officer grabbed his shirt from behind and opened fire while Blake had his back turned. At least seven shots could be heard.
The officers involved have since been placed on administrative leave, which is standard practice in a shooting by police. Authorities released no details about the officers.
Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.
The man who said he made the initial 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.
White 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.
White said he left the window for a few minutes, and when he came back, saw three officers wrestling with Blake. One punched Blake in the ribs, and another used a stun gun on him, White said. He said Blake got free and started walking away as officers yelled about a knife.
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.’
Police did not immediately confirm either man’s account. They did say, however, confirm they were responding to a call about a domestic dispute when they encountered Blake.
Blake’s fiancee, Laquisha Booker, told 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 father told the Chicago Sun Times that his son also has three other children.
Anger over the shooting spilled into the streets of Kenosha for a second night on 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.
Crump, who has also represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, said Blake’s family has asked that demonstrations in response to his shooting remain peaceful.
‘They don’t believe violence to be the solution,’ he said.
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.
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.
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.’
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 GOP members decried the violent protests, echoing the law-and-order theme that President Donald Trump has been using in his reelection campaign.
‘As always, the video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident,’ Pete Deates, president of the Kenosha police union, said in a statement.
He called the governor’s statement ‘wholly irresponsible.’
Details have since emerged about Blake’s criminal past, including a recent arrest for sexual assault.
According to online records, Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake with third-degree sexual assault, trespassing, and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse.
It was unclear whether that case had anything to do with the shooting.
In 2015, Blake was also charged with resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon after he pulled a gun at a local bar in Racine.
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.
Rachel Noerdlinger, publicist for the National Action Network, told The Associated Press that the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke on Monday to Blake’s father, who called the civil rights leader for his support.
Blake’s father will speak at Sharpton’s March on Washington commemoration on Friday, Noerdlinger said.
Karissa Lewis, national field director of Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 Black-led organizations that make up the broader Black Lives Matter movement, said the shooting was yet another example of why activists have called for defunding police departments.
‘There’s no amount of training or reform that can teach a police officer that it’s wrong to shoot a Black man in the back seven times while his children watch,’ Lewis said.