Jacob Blake’s father says son paralyzed from waist down after Kenosha police shooting

Click to play video: 'Jacob Blake shooting sharpens political divide in U.S.'
Jacob Blake shooting sharpens political divide in U.S.
WATCH: Jacob Blake shooting sharpens political divide in U.S – Aug 25, 2020

In a new interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, the father of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man shot in the back seven times by police, says his son is paralyzed from the waist down.

The father, also named Jacob Blake, told the publication that there are now “eight holes” in his son’s body. The Sun-Times indicates that there were eight shots, but the majority of news outlets, including Global News, are reporting seven, based on the eyewitness video.

As for the reported paralysis, doctors aren’t sure if the injury is permanent, according to Blake’s father. The hospital has not provided any official update on Blake’s health status.

The younger Blake was rushed to a hospital in Milwaukee for surgery after the incident, which happened in front of a crowd of onlookers who recorded the video of the shooting on Sunday around 5 p.m. local time.

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A 20-second video shows Blake walking away from three police officers and attempting to get into his SUV. The officers can be seen pursuing Blake with their guns drawn. Several neighbours watch from nearby, and a few of them scream and shout at the officers.

Jacob Blake, centre, walks away from police before he is shot in the back in Kenosha, Wisc., on Aug. 23, 2020. Telicia Phillips/Facebook

Blake, who appears to be unarmed in the video, opens the driver’s door and attempts to get into the SUV. An officer tries to stop him by pulling on his white tank top. Seven gunshots ring out, then Blake slumps into the SUV and the car horn starts going off. A woman runs over to the scene and starts screaming.

A black object is visible on the pavement beside the SUV but it’s unclear what the object is, and Blake makes no move to reach for it in the video.

A police officer pulls on Jacob Blake’s shirt, moments before shooting him on Aug. 23, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisc. Telicia Phillips/Facebook

The man who said he made the cellphone video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before the gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands. A knife is not plainly visible at any time in the video.

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Click to play video: 'Video shows police in Wisconsin shooting Black man from behind'
Video shows police in Wisconsin shooting Black man from behind

Kenosha police say the officers provided immediate medical assistance after the shooting, and that Blake was airlifted to hospital in serious condition. As of Tuesday morning, Blake remains in the Milwaukee hospital.

Click to play video: 'Wisconsin protests: Fires light up Kenosha streets as protesters defy emergency curfew'
Wisconsin protests: Fires light up Kenosha streets as protesters defy emergency curfew

The Kenosha Police Department says officers were responding to a report of domestic violence. They did not explain Blake’s involvement, why he was shot or how many of the shots hit him. It’s also unclear whether the police were called to Blake’s place of residence or if the situation involved any of his immediate family members. Kenosha police do not have body cameras but do have body microphones.

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Wisconsin’s Department of Justice is now investigating the shooting. All three officers from the incident have been put on administrative leave.

Jacob Blake’s father, who resides in North Carolina, is making the drive to be by his son’s side in the hospital, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,” he said to the Sun-Times. “I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.”

The elder Blake said the younger Blake has been living in Kenosha for approximately three years, and confirmed he’s the father of six children between the ages of three and 13. The younger Blake also has 12 siblings: seven brothers and five sisters.

Several witnesses told Kenosha News that Blake was trying to break up a fight between two women outside a home in the area, and that his children were in the SUV at the time. They say the officers used a stun gun on Blake, then pursued him to his car and shot him in the back.

Blake’s partner, Laquisha Booker, said their three children were in the back seat of the SUV when he was shot.

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“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,” Booker told local station WTMJ-TV.

Anger over the shooting of a Black man by police spilled into the streets of Kenosha for a second night Monday, with police again firing tear gas at hundreds of protesters who defied a curfew, threw bottles and shot fireworks at law enforcement guarding the courthouse. Dozens of people had shown up to protest the shooting on Sunday night, where they were met by a large number of police and patrol vehicles.

Jacob Blake protesters lit vehicles on fire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 24, 2020. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The protesters damaged several police vehicles and hit one officer with a brick, video shows. Riot police deployed tear gas and blocked off the area around the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, which was damaged during the protest.

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Click to play video: 'Police shooting of Black man in Wisconsin sparks protests'
Police shooting of Black man in Wisconsin sparks protests

The shooting drew condemnation from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who also called out 125 members of the National Guard on Monday.

Police first fired tear gas Monday about 30 minutes after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect to disperse protesters, who chanted, “No justice, no peace” as they confronted a line of officers who wore protective gear and stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the courthouse entrance. But hundreds of people stuck around, screaming at police and lighting fires, including to a garbage truck near the courthouse.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also weighed in Monday, saying the officers “must be held accountable.”

Security forces stand guard in front of the courthouse following the shooting of a Black man by police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 24, 2020. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, representing Blake’s family, said Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident.”

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The elder Blake told the Sun-Times that the police officers who shot his son were “the flint as well as the gasoline,” triggering the anger and backlash in Kenosha.

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

— With files from Josh K. Elliott and The Associated Press

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