A video capturing a Black man being shot in the back multiple times by Kenosha police officers Sunday evening sparked a series of angry protests into the night, prompting the authorities to issue a city-wide curfew.
Kenosha Police officers were called to the 2800 block of 40th Street at 5:11 p.m. Sunday for a “domestic incident” when authorities said the “officer involved shooting” took place, according to a statement from the Kenosha Police Department.
Law enforcement officers have not provided any details about what led up to the shooting; however, authorities said “law enforcement immediately provided medical aid to the person who was shot,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Authorities have not formally identified the victim—who is said to be in serious condition at the Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee—however, family members and others have identified him as 29-year-old Jacob Blake, local station WTMJ-TV reports.
Video of the shooting, obtained by Kenosha News, shows Blake walking around the front of his SUV to his driver’s side door as two officers follow behind him with their guns drawn. Blake begins to open the driver’s side door just as an officer grabs his shirt and opens fire while Blake has his back turned to the officer. Seven shots can be heard in the clip as bystanders scream in horror.
The video was shot by 22-year-old Raysean White, who told NBC News that Blake first showed up his truck after a group of women had been arguing in the street.
“He pulled up in his truck, got out of his truck, seen him walk up. His son was running towards him. He was picking up his son. He told his son to get in the grey truck, we about to go,” White said.
White said he looked out his window again a few minutes later and saw police were on the scene and were “wrestling” with Blake behind the SUV. He said he started to film the video after a female officer appeared to tase Blake.
“They were also yelling drop the knife,” White said. “I didn’t see any weapons in his hands, he wasn’t being violent.”
White said Blake was shot in front of his children.
“I was freaked out,” he told NBC News. “And then I seen the mother of the child that got in the truck, I seen her get the little boy out the truck. He had to be 4, 5, 6 (years of age) or that range.”
Blake’s partner Laquisha Booker told WTMJ that the couple’s three children were all in the backseat of the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
“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," she said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, has been retained by Blake's family. In a statement obtained by NBC News, Crump said Blake was "simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident."
"Blake was helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew their weapons and tasered him. As he was walking away to check on his children, police fired their weapons several times into his back at point blank range. Blake’s three sons were only a few feet away and witnessed police shoot their father," the statement read.
"We all watched the horrific video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back several times by Kenosha police. Even worse, his three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets. Their irresponsible, reckless, and inhumane actions nearly cost the life of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident. It’s a miracle he’s still alive," Crump said.
The Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is leading the investigation into the shooting and said all the officers involved, who have not been publicly identified, are “fully cooperating” with the inquiry.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
“DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to a prosecutor following a complete and thorough investigation,” the Department of Justice said.
The shooting quickly sparked protests in the community as multiple vehicles were set on fire; people also stood on police cars and windows were smashed out. Police, wearing riot gear, tried to quell the crowd by using tear gas, SWAT vehicles and large groups of officers, according to the Associated Press.
As the violence continued, authorities issued a city-wide curfew until 7:00 a.m. Monday morning, after receiving numerous calls about armed robberies and shots fired, according to Kenosha Police.
As a result of the civil unrest, the Kenosha County government announced the courthouse and administration building would be closed to the public Monday due to the “damage sustained” during the unrest.
Gov. Tony Evers addressed the shooting on social media, comparing it to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and calling for justice.
“Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries,” he wrote. “While we do not have all of the details yet, 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 hand of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country. We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.”
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