Jacob Blake ― a Black man repeatedly shot in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers on Sunday ― is now paralysed from the waist down, his father told The Chicago Sun-Times.
The shooting, which was captured in a bystander video that has since gone viral, has sparked protests in Kenosha and other cities, including Minneapolis, where George Floyd died while in police custody in May.
The video appears to show two police officers pointing their guns at Blake, 29, as he walks away from them and toward the driver’s side of a parked SUV. Blake can been seen opening the car door. As Blake leans inside, one of the officers can be seen grabbing the back of Blake’s shirt before at least seven gunshots ring out. It’s unclear if both officers fired shots.
Several onlookers can be heard screaming during the shooting.
Police said officers on the scene provided medical aid to Blake before he was transported to a hospital. The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave ― a standard practice in a police shooting ― while the Wisconsin Department of Justice investigates.
It’s unclear what led up to the shooting on Sunday. Police said they had been responding to a “reported domestic incident.” Some witnesses said Blake was trying to break up a fight when police approached him, according to the Sun-Times. When Blake’s father spoke to him Sunday morning, Blake was planning to celebrate his son’s eighth birthday that day.
“What justified all those shots?” Blake’s father, whose name is also Jacob Blake, said. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”
Doctors are not yet sure whether the younger Blake will suffer permanent paralysis, his father told the Sun-Times.
Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, described the horror of hearing the news that his nephew had been shot by police.
“This is like all the Black parents talk about it; it’s that phone call you don’t want to get and we got it,” he told CNN. “So you have to sort of be strong for each other. Let your faith lead the way.”
Justin Blake called his nephew a “hell of a young man” and said his family is praying for a strong recovery and a “great quality of life” moving forward. He said the family is asking people nationwide to peacefully protest the shooting.
“We want justice and we’re going to get justice,” Justin Blake said. “We’re going to demand justice. But we’re going to do that without tearing up own communities.”
Protests erupted in Kenosha on Sunday evening and again Monday night. Police fired tear gas at protesters to disperse the crowd about 30 minutes after an 8 p.m. curfew issued by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office took effect, reported The Associated Press.
Some demonstrators reportedly lit fireworks and threw bottles at police officers guarding a courthouse. Others lit a garbage truck on fire.
In Minneapolis, demonstrators marched in solidarity with the Kenosha protesters. At one point, about 100 protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center, where several demonstrators who were arrested earlier in the night were being held, reported WCCO-TV.