Man ‘not likely to walk again after police shooting’

The family lawyer for a black man shot by police in the US said Tuesday that Jacob Blake is paralysed and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again.

The shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, apparently in the back, was captured on phone video and ignited new protests over racial injustice in several cities, just three months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police touched off a wider reckoning on race.

“They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter,” said Blake’s father, who is also named Jacob Blake and who spoke to reporters alongside other family members and lawyers.

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A flag flies over a department of corrections building ablaze during protests sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake (Morry Gash/AP)
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A flag flies over a department of corrections building ablaze during protests sparked by the shooting of Jacob Blake (Morry Gash/AP)

“But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”

The 29-year-old was in surgery, said lawyer Ben Crump , adding that the bullets severed Blake’s spinal cord and shattered his vertebrae.

“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr to ever walk again,” Mr Crump said.

Another Blake family lawyer said they would be filing a civil lawsuit against the police department over the shooting.

Police have said little about what happened, other than that they were responding to a domestic dispute. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating.

After a night during which protests evolved into unrest, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers called for calm, while also saying the National Guard presence would be doubled from 125 to 250 in Kenosha.

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Protesters march in Kenosha in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)
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Protesters march in Kenosha in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Crowds destroyed dozens of buildings and set more than 30 fires on Monday night.

“We cannot allow the cycle of systemic racism and injustice to continue,” said Mr Evers, who is facing mounting pressure from Republicans over his handling of the unrest that has followed the shooting. “We also cannot continue going down this path of damage and destruction.”

Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said the damage in Kenosha does not reflect the feelings of her family and if her son could see it, he would be “very unpleased”.

Three of the younger Blake’s sons, aged three, five and eight, were in the car at the time of the shooting, Mr Crump said. It was the eight-year-old’s birthday, he said.

The man who said he made the phone video of the shooting, 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 did not see a knife in Blake’s hands.

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A group of Black Lives Matter protesters hold a rally on the steps of the Kenosha County courthouse (Morry Gash/AP)
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A group of Black Lives Matter protesters hold a rally on the steps of the Kenosha County courthouse (Morry Gash/AP)

In the footage, Blake walks from the pavement around the front of his vehicle to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him.

As Blake opens the door and leans into the vehicle an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned.

Seven shots can be heard, though it is not clear how many struck Blake or how many officers fired.

Since the shooting, anger has spilled into the streets of Kenosha and other cities, including Los Angeles, Wisconsin’s capital Madison and in Minneapolis, the epicentre of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer following Floyd’s death.

Hundreds of protesters defied an 8pm curfew Monday night, massing in central Kenosha, where they were met by a wall of law enforcement officers, including 125 members of the Wisconsin National Guard.

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