Law & the Courts

Man Shot by Kenosha Police Paralyzed from Waist Down, Father Says

People yell at a line of police officers outside the Kenosha County Courthouse after Jacob Blake was shot several times by police in Kenosha, Wis., August 24, 2020. (Stephen Maturen/Reuters)

Jacob Blake’s father says he is now paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisc. on Sunday in an incident that has sparked outrage against police and ignited riots in the area.

“What justified all those shots?” his father said in remarks to the Chicago Sun-Times. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”

A social media video of the incident shows Blake, a 29-year-old black man, walking away from police officers, who have their guns drawn on him, and starting to get into an SUV with his children ages 3, 5, and 8 inside before police shoot him multiple times in the back.

Kenosha Police said they were called shortly after 5 p.m. when they were called to handle a domestic incident. Witnesses said that Blake had been attempting to break up a verbal dispute between two women and that police tried to use a taser on Blake before they heard at least seven gunshots. Witnesses said Blake was unarmed, but it is not confirmed whether he had a weapon.

Police said the officers gave Blake immediate aid, and he was flown to a hospital in the Milwaukee area, where he remained in intensive care as of Monday evening. Doctors are not sure if his paralysis is permanent.

“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,” Blake’s father said. “My son is not responsible for it. My son didn’t have a weapon. He didn’t have a gun.”

The officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Civil unrest erupted during the two nights following Blake’s shooting, with rioters setting fires outside the Kenosha County Courthouse.

“If we don’t have the systematic reform that this moment in America is crying out for, then we are going to continue to see hashtag after hashtag, protest after protest, and cities burning all across America,” said Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, on Monday.

Meanwhile, Blake’s uncle called for peaceful protests.

“Protest non-violently,” said Justin Blake. “We want justice, and we’re going to get justice. We’re going to demand justice. But we’re going to do that without tearing up our own communities.”

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