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A Black man identified as Jacob Blake is in serious condition at a hospital in Milwaukee after Kenosha, Wisconsin police shot him several times as he reached into a car while his young sons watched.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident, according to the Kenosha News. In response to the shooting, furious protests broke out in the city on Sunday night, mirroring this summer’s nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May. Before the unrest was over, a local courthouse had some damage and multiple fires had been put out.
Kenosha police were called to a residence for a “domestic violence incident” at 5:11 p.m., the department said in a press release with few details. Blake was attempting to break up a fight, several witnesses told the Kenosha News.
Video taken on a cell phone from across the street shows several officers surrounding Blake behind the passenger’s side of an SUV. Blake then emerges from view and walks over to the driver’s side of the car. As Blake opens the door and reaches into the car, an officer shoots him several times in the back from point-blank range.
Warning: this video is violent and disturbing:
Kenosha police claimed in the statement that officers provided “immediate aid” to Blake, who was then airlifted to Froedtert Hospital near Milwaukee. Blake is out of surgery and is now in the intensive care unit, according to a Twitter post early Monday morning from a man identified by local news outlets as his cousin.
According to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who told CNN the family reached out to him, Blake’s young sons were in the car and watched the police shoot their father.
A man identified as a friend of Blake’s told local TV station WISN 12 that it was Blake’s son’s birthday, and his son was in the car when he was shot. “It could have been de-escalated,” the man said of the cops’ handling of the situation. “You see the video. He wasn’t a threat to nobody.”
Kenosha Police Department officers do not wear body cameras. All the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, according to a Wisconsin Department of Justice statement issued Monday morning. The department’s Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the probe with assistance from the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office. The DCI “aims to provide a report of the incident to the prosecutor within 30 days,” according to standard protocol in police shootings.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released a statement on Sunday night expressing condolences for Blake’s family, saying he was “shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight.”
“While we do not have all the details yet, what we know for certain is he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or in our country,” Evers said in a statement.
The shooting set off unrest in the city: a video posted online late Sunday showed windows being broken at a local courthouse, and multiple fires were put out in the area around the courthouse, according to local reports. Kenosha County said on Monday morning that its courthouse and administration building would be closed all day “due to damage sustained from last night’s civil unrest.”
At least 642 people have been shot this year by police, according to the Washington Post’s police shootings database. Twenty-two Black men have been shot and killed by Wisconsin police since 2015; though Black people make up less than 7 percent of the population of Wisconsin, 23 percent of all people killed by Wisconsin police during the same period have been Black.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tweeted that protests like those in Kenosha “are coming to a town near you if Democrats win in November,” without acknowledging the police shooting that preceded the protests or the fact that this all happened while his father is actively serving as president.