Jacob Blake Shooting: New Details Emerge As Authorities Launch Civil-Rights Inquiry
“He's a human being and he matters,” Jacob Blake Sr. says of his son.
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the F.B.I. and Wisconsin state authorities will work together to conduct an official civil-rights probe into the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
On Aug. 23, officers were dispatched to the home of a woman who had called for help because “her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises,” according to a Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) news release.
Responding officers tried to arrest Jacob Blake, 29, and deployed a Taser but were unsuccessful in stopping him from heading to his vehicle, DCI said.
When Blake opened the driver’s side door of the SUV and leaned in, one officer held on to Blake’s shirt and fired seven shots at close range, striking him multiple times in the back.
In the Aug. 26 news release, DCI identified Rusten Sheskey, a 31-year-old white officer who has been with the Kenosha Police Department for seven years, as the person who shot Blake.
Benjamin Crump, a Blake family attorney, claimed Blake had been trying to break up a domestic disturbance between two women at the time and his three children — ages 3, 5 and 8 —witnessed the shooting from the SUV, CNN reported.
DCI claimed Blake “admitted that he had a knife in his possession” and agents recovered the weapon “from the driver’s side floorboard” of the vehicle. A second lawyer working with Blake’s family has denied the allegations.
“In the vehicle, he did not have a weapon,” attorney Patrick Salvi Jr. told CNN. “I can't speak directly to what he owned, but what I can say is his three children were in the car and that was in the front of his mind. That is the most important thing to him in his life — his family and his children.”
Sheskey and the other officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Family said Blake underwent surgery for his injuries and may be paralyzed from the waist down, according to CNN.
Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said in a statement that one of the three of his grandsons who witnessed the incident is now “repeatedly” asking “Why did police shoot my daddy in the back?”
“They shot my son seven times, seven times. Like he didn't matter. But my son matters,” Blake Sr. said. “He's a human being and he matters.”
The Chicago Sun Times reported that Blake's father claimed his son is handcuffed to his hospital bed as he recovers. “He can’t go anywhere,” Blake Sr. said, asking, “Why do you have him cuffed to the bed?”
The shooting sparked widespread demonstrations in Kenosha.
On Aug. 26, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested in Illinois after allegedly killing two Wisconsin residents and seriously injuring a third during protests in the city the previous evening, according to the Washington Post.
In a video recorded with the Daily Caller shortly before the shootings, Rittenhouse said he was armed because he wanted to help police and prevent looting.
“So, people are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business,” he said. “And part of my job is to also help people. If there is somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle — because I can protect myself, obviously. But I also have my med kit.”
Authorities have charged the teenager on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide.
Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said the looting and damage caused during the protests “doesn't reflect my son or my family.”
“If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased,” she insisted.
Read more: The New York Times