• Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

Jacob Blake: What we know about Wisconsin police shooting – BBC News

Image of Jacob Blake supplied by his legal team Image copyright BenCrump.com
Image caption Jacob Blake (left) was shot several times in the back by police

Several US cities have been rocked by protests after a black man was shot by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot several times in the back as he entered a car where his three children were seated.

His family said he has been left paralysed from the waist down – although doctors do not know if it is permanent.

What happened?

Kenosha Police Department said the “officer-involved shooting” happened shortly after 17:00 on 23 August.

Police said they were responding to a domestic incident, but so far it is unclear who called the police, how many officers were involved, and what happened before the shooting. Police in Kenosha do not have body cameras, although they do have microphones.

Lawyers for Mr Blake said he had been trying to “de-escalate a domestic incident” when police drew their weapons.

The person who shot the video, Raysean White, told CNN that before he began filming, he saw police wrestle, punch and Taser Mr Blake.

It was then he started recording. Mr Blake is shown walking around the front of the SUV. The two officers closest to Mr Blake at this point on the video are white males.

As he opens the door and leans into the car, one officer can be seen grabbing his shirt and opening fire. Seven shots can be heard in the video, as witnesses shout and scream.

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Media captionThe US police shooting of Jacob Blake sparks protests in Wisconsin

Mr White told the AP news agency that he heard police officers shout “Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted, but said he didn’t see a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.

Police said that officers had provided immediate aid to Mr Blake, who was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee afterwards.

What has the response been?

Two days on from the shooting, Mr Blake’s family gave an emotional statement to the media.

“They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter,” his father, Jacob Blake Snr said. “But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”

Mr Blake’s lawyer said that, because of his injuries, he has needed nearly all of his colon and small intestine removed, and suffered damage to his kidney, liver and arm.

The family have demanded the arrest of the officer who shot Mr Blake, and said other officers involved in the incident should be fired.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There have been two nights of protests so far in Kenosha

“People question why we have to say Black Lives Matter: this is why,” said lawyer Ben Crump.

Mr Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, also appealed for an end to violent protests.

“It doesn’t reflect my son or my family,” said Ms Jackson. “I’m really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts.”

Wisconsin’s department of justice says the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while investigations continue. A petition calling for them to be charged has garnered tens of thousands of signatures.

Who is Jacob Blake?

Mr Blake was raised in Evanston, a town outside the city of Chicago.

His uncle, Justin, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper that he moved to Kenosha several years ago for a job and for his family.

“It was a safer location. He could work and try to save and build a better life,” said Justin.

His family have a long history of community activism. Mr Blake’s grandfather, also called Jacob, was a pastor at a church in Evanston, and a local leader in the civil rights movement. He was also a prolific campaigner for affordable housing and led his congregation in constructing a housing block in the city.

Justin Blake said Mr Blake continued this tradition of public service and volunteered with Black Urban Recycling – a charity that collects aluminium cans and recycles them to raise money for a community centre in Chicago.

Court records show there was an active arrest warrant against Mr Blake, related to charges of sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct. But it is unclear if police were aware of this at the time of his shooting.

What is the wider context?

Mr Blake’s shooting comes as the US grapples with the treatment of African-Americans at the hands US law enforcement, as well as wider questions about racism in society.

Debate has reignited this year after another black man, George Floyd, was killed by Minneapolis police in May.

Mr Floyd’s death sparked protests around the country, and abroad, and has led to calls for extensive police reform in America.