A Black man was shot in the back multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, a bystander’s video showed, prompting community protests and widespread anger.
The incident comes just three months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
The man, identified by his family as Jacob Blake, 29, is in serious condition at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, the Kenosha Police Department said in a statement. Blake’s family has since confirmed that he is out of surgery and stable.
Police released few details about what happened but said officers were responding to a domestic incident at 5:11 p.m. local time and “were involved in an officer-involved shooting.”
The Kenosha Police Department said the division of criminal investigations for the Wisconsin Department of Justice would investigate the shooting and deferred requests for comment there.
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Anger over the incident sparked protests across the city, which saw dump trucks set on fire and windows of a public library smashed, according to video on social media.
A reporter for WTMJ,the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, said the windows of police vehicles were also smashed. Police with riot gear appeared to arrive at the scene.
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department issued a state of emergency late Sunday and imposed a curfew prohibiting people from being on the streets until 7 a.m. Monday. The curfew would be in effect again Monday night, starting at 8 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m. Tuesday, the department said.
Blake’s family has retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, according to a statement from Crump’s office.
“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 said.
“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.
“We will seek justice for Jacob Blake and for his family as we demand answers from the Kenosha Police Department,” he said.
Raysean White, 22, who filmed the video, told NBC News that the incident first caught his attention when he heard a group of women arguing across the street from his apartment.
“Then the guy that got shot showed up,” White said. “He pulled up in his truck, got out 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.”
Minutes later, White said, he looked out of his window again to see “police out there wrestling” with the man, who was later identified as Blake, behind the vehicle.
White said he saw a female officer fire the Taser at Blake. White said he then started to record the incident, some of which is obscured by the vehicle, and it is unclear what exactly transpired before the video starts.
“They were also yelling ‘drop the knife,'” White said. “I didn’t see any weapons in his hands, he wasn’t being violent.”
The video shows Blake walking in front of the vehicle to try and get into the driver’s seat, although it is not clear whether he is carrying a knife.
It is at this point that shots are fired.
“I was freaked out,” White said. “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 she and Jacob have three children together, and the children were in the back seat of the vehicle when police shot their father.
“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 said.
Booker also said Blake was unarmed.
“That don’t make sense that you treat somebody like that, who’s not armed. He ain’t throw no punch or nothing,” Booker said.
Neither the Kenosha Police Department nor the Wisconsin Justice Department immediately responded to requests for comment regarding the accounts described by Crump, White or Booker.
In a statement, Pete Deates, the president of the Kenosha Professional Police Association, reiterated on Monday that the Wisconsin Department of Justice was investigating the shooting.
“Until that investigation is completed, we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please let the process take place,” Deates said. “The video currently circulating does not capture all the intricacies of a highly dynamic incident. We ask that you withhold from passing judgement until all the facts are known and released.”
“We, along with the citizens of the great City of Kenosha, ask for peace and to let the process play out fairly and impartially,” Deates added.
“Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. “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 hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”
Evers said he stands with those who are demanding justice and accountability.
Jeffery Robinson, the director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality, said in a statement that “unfortunately, disgusting acts of police brutality like this will be commonplace so long as police continue to act as an occupying force in Black communities.”
“The fact that incidents of police violence like this, the murder of Breonna Taylor as she slept in her home, the murder of George Floyd across the street from a grocery store, the murder of Eric Garner outside of a neighborhood bodega and countless others have become commonplace shows that the very institution of American policing is rotten at its core,” Robinson said.
President Donald Trump said he was briefed on the incident early Monday and would be meeting with Attorney General William Barr later in the day to discuss the issue in more detail.
Although it was too early to tell what happened, Trump told reporters, “The video tells a story that’s troubling.”
In a statement, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said “this morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.”
“Equal justice has not been real for Black Americans and so many others. We are at an inflection point. We must dismantle systemic racism. It is the urgent task before us,” Biden said. “These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Jill and I pray for Jacob’s recovery and for his children.”