Jacob Blake was named by Wisconsin’s governor as the man who was shot and seriously wounded by a Kenosha police officer at close range in a graphic scene that was captured on video. The governor says Blake, 29, was shot “in the back multiple times.”
A news release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice says that, “While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon seven times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon. Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras, therefore the officers were not wearing body cameras.”
Sheskey has been an officer for seven years with the Kenosha PD. During the investigation, “Mr. Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession. DCI agents recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle. There were no other weapons recovered,” the DOJ reported. The DCI (Department of Criminal Investigation with the Wisconsin Department of Justice) is continuing to review the case.
Governor Tony Evers released the injured man’s name, writing on Twitter:
Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries. 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.
The Wisconsin police officer fired seven shots that appeared directed at extremely close range into Blake’s back as Blake bent into a car, the graphic video shows. The August 23 video captures the sound of seven gunshots. It appears that the officer opens fire while holding the back of the man’s shirt. You can watch the video below, but be forewarned that it is very graphic. It’s not yet known whether Blake had a weapon or had access to one; it’s also not known what words were exchanged, if any, before the shooting.
A woman named Bee Davis wrote on Facebook, “Instead of saying he’s dead … Just continue to pray 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾… HIS NAME IS JACOB BLAKE … Say HIS NAME!!! he’s a soldier and still fighting for his life !!! PRAY PRAY PRAY!!! He’s NOT DEAD … STOP SAYING THAT S***!!!” His sister, Dior Lei Blake wrote on Facebook, “Stop the fake news, my brother is still fighting , all we need is prayers 🙏🏽” His father, also named Jacob Blake, wrote on Facebook, “My son is alive and stable.”
Blake’s father says his son is paralyzed, although doctors aren’t sure whether it’s permanent. Blake’s lawyer said August 25 that it will take a miracle for him to walk again.
“I want to thank everybody for their prayers and concerns,” Jacob Blake Sr. said in his Instagram story, in which he claimed his son was shot eight times during the shooting. “This sh*t out here is real…so matter what the f*** they say doesn’t justify shooting my son in the back eight times.” He added: “He’s still here. You hit him with eight shots. You can’t take nothing that’s not yours if you’re not supposed to get it.” In a news conference, Blake Sr. said, “They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.” He also revealed that Blake is handcuffed to his hospital bed, something the Kenosha sheriff confirmed, citing open warrants.
Blake’s injuries are severe and include a severed spinal cord and broken vertebrae, according to the family lawyer, speaking at the press conference.
The two officers seen in the video are on leave. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating. A GoFundMe page to help Blake has raised more than $2 million.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Graphic Video Shows the Shooting Happened at Very Close Range; His Family’s Attorney Says Blake Was Trying to ‘Deescalate a Domestic Situation’
The video shows three officers standing with Blake before he walks away from them. Then, an officer with a gun drawn follows Blake to the driver’s side of his car. There are multiple people in the area. A second officer is right behind Blake. Blake, who is Black, gets in the car. The officer, who appears to be white, at least from a distance, then appears to shoot multiple times into the door at Blake’s back. According to the Associated Press, a man named Raysean White recorded the video on his cell phone.
A man who took one of the videos told WISN-TV that officers were yelling at Blake to drop a knife but he didn’t see one and felt Blake wasn’t aggressive. “He wasn’t aggressive,” the man said to the television station. “The police might say he was resisting arrest but he wasn’t attacking the police. They were telling him to drop the knife. I didn’t see a knife in his hand. He wasn’t coming at them with a knife. And they shot him in the back as they were pulling on his shirt. I don’t understand that.” However, authorities now say that Blake admitted having a knife and they recovered one.
Here’s a video from another vantage point. A woman named Chyna Smith posted it on Facebook and wrote, “He was just bbq for his son bday they shot an unarmed black man in front of his sons.”
The officer who fires appears to be grabbing Blake’s white shirt while firing, and it doesn’t look like Blake turned to face the officer. A second officer has his gun drawn.
“It is outrageous. Who was he threatening?” Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN. “He had a tank top and shorts on. He had no weapon. He was going back to the car because the children needed to be checked on.”
A former Kenosha alderman, Kevin Mathewson, was one of those who shared the video on Facebook. You can also watch it here. “Kenosha Police Shooting man 7 times in back,” he wrote. “Why the f*** you shoot him that many times?” a man shouts at the officer in the video. A woman named Telicia Phillips appears to have first posted the videos. Heavy has reached out to her for comment.
Here are some screenshots from the video.
In a statement posted to his Twitter page, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he is representing Blake’s family. His release says Blake is a “Black man who was shot in the back several times by Kenosha police.”
The statement says 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 Facebook cover photo shows officers in a squad car appearing to wear pig and devil masks.
Blake’s most recent visible Facebook post is from May and says, “😱Will Smith just bodied every new generation rapper….I don’t care what anybody say… Y’all n***** stink🤢…..🗣️NO TALENT….. 🗣️NO TALENT.” His profile picture is of Chicago’s mayor superimposed over a scene with cars. He also posted photos of bongs, writing, “My homie got sum ish here cuZZn🤞🤞🤞🤞”
He posted a selfie in a vape shop, writing, “come get what u need bc they got it.”
2. Jacob Blake Is a Father of Six; Three of His Children Watched the Shooting Occur, His Family’s Attorney Says
A photo shared by WISN-TV and pictures on Facebook showed Blake with multiple children, and posts on Facebook indicated that he is a father. His attorney told CNN that his children, ages 3, 5 and 8, were in the car at the time of the shooting.
“As we fight for Justice and understanding, our family has and will face many trials during this time. Jacob Blake is a loving father of 6 that deserves proper medical attention and legal representation,” the GoFundme page for Blake says. “We are looking to raise funds to supplement the moral support and prayers we have been receiving. These funds will go toward Jacob’s medical bills, legal representation, support for his children and therapy costs. This is the only official go fund me created by the family of Jacob Blake.”
The Kenosha News also reported that the shooting occurred in front of the man’s children.
Crump confirmed that in his statement. “Blake’s three sons were only a few feet away and witnessed police shoot their father,” he wrote. “His three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets. Their (Kenosha police officers’) 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.”
Governor Evers’ statement on Twitter continued:
We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites. I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.
The Kenosha Police Association wrote that, until the DOJ investigation is completed, “we ask that you withhold prejudgment about the incident and please the let process take place. Governor Evers’ statement on the incident was wholly irresponsible and not reflective of the hardworking members of the law enforcement community, not to mention the citizens of the City of Kenosha…As always, 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.”
A woman named Lacey January wrote on Facebook:
As soon as you think police brutality is over, it strikes again. This time is personal. Not Jake😢
We love you Jake Blake.
They said you were just breaking up a fight.
They said you had your kids in the car.
The Police shot you 7 or 8 or 9 times and you were unarmed.
Is this even real?!
🚨Death has not been confirmed so please continue Praying🙏🏾 I know he can pull through by the grace of God🙏🏾
3. Police Say They Were Dispatched to a Domestic Incident & Then an Officer-Involved Shooting
Kenosha police have released very few details about how the shooting unfolded. Here’s the full statement released by Kenosha police about the August 23 shooting:
At 5:11 p.m. Kenosha Police Officers were sent to the 2800 block of 40th Street for a domestic incident and were involved in an officer involved shooting.
Officers provided immediate aid to the person. The person was transported via Flight for Life to Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee. The person is in serious condition.
Kenosha Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin State Patrol were requested immediately so that the scene could be turned over to an agency, other than Kenosha Police.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (D.O.J.), Division of Criminal Investigation (D.C.I.) will be investigating this officer involved shooting. Further media releases will come directly from D.C.I. Inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 24, police released a follow-up statement, but it didn’t say much else. The city declared a state of emergency and curfew.
There was a press conference on August 24.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement, “As with all investigations we conduct, we will unwaveringly pursue justice in this case.”
According to Wisconsin Circuit Court Access online records, a Jacob S. Blake, same age and with an address in the same block where the shooting occurred, had a warrant issued for him on July 7 on pending accusations of misdemeanor criminal trespass to a dwelling with domestic abuse as a modifier; felony third-degree sexual assault with domestic abuse as a modifier; and misdemeanor disorderly conduct with domestic abuse as a modifier. A support action was dismissed, and the only other case that comes up is for not having a driver’s license.
A 2015 story in Racine Eye described how “Racine police say K9 Dozer had to help officers take a man into custody when the man refused to go quietly into custody after he pulled a gun at a local bar.” The man was described as Jacob Blake, 24, of Racine, which makes him the same age as the man shot by police on August 23. The Racine Eye story said he was charged with “one felony count of resisting arrest causing a soft tissue injury to a police officer and one misdemeanor count each of carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, endangering safety-use of a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct.” Those charges don’t show up on the circuit court website though.
That story further alleged, “Blake and two women were at the Brass Monkey tavern, 1436 Junction Avenue, Saturday when Blake got into an argument with another patron and pulled a black handgun. Blake pointed the gun at the other man, and the magazine fell to the floor. The bartender told Blake to leave, and he did but then pointed the gun through the window at patrons inside the bar before walking south on Junction Avenue.”
Police stopped Blake in a “high risk traffic stop” but he “exited the SUV and started walking toward officers and ignored commands to get down on the ground,” the story said. That’s when officers forced him to the ground and used a K9 when he kept resisting, the story added.
You can read the criminal complaint in the May 2020 open warrant case here. The mother of some of Blake’s children accused him of digitally penetrating her without her consent. “LNB stated she and the defendant have three children together but have never resided together in the eight years they have been on and off. LNB stated the defendant is unemployed, has no vehicle, and would not tell LNB where he was currently living. LNB stated over the past eight years the defendant has physically assaulted her around twice a year when he drinks heavily,” the complaint says.
4. Blake’s Reverend Grandfather Was Involved in the Civil Right’s Movement
According to CNN, Blake was raised in Evanston, Illinois, and moved to Kenosha for a “fresh start.” The cable news network reported that his grandfather, Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., “led the fight for fair housing in Evanston throughout the 1960s and ’70s and led the Ebenezer AME Church congregation.” He focused on racial discrimination in housing, organizing marches after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, CNN reported.
In the wake of Blake’s shooting, outrage is erupting in the southeastern Wisconsin community, which is located in between Milwaukee and Chicago.
There were reports that an officer was knocked out with a brick. In the days after the shooting, businesses were torched, cars smashed and burned, and graffiti, including “kill cops” sprayed. At least 34 fires were started with 30 businesses destroyed, according to AP. Blake’s mother has called for peace.
5. Neighbors Said Blake Was Trying to Break Up a Fight & Was Tasered First
According to the Kenosha News, neighbors said “police tasered and then shot a man several times.”
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said, according to CNN, “The irony is not lost on me that as Jacob Blake was actually trying to deescalate a situation in his community, but the responding officer didn’t feel the need to do the same.”
The Kenosha News reported that neighbors said the man was “trying to break up a fight between two women.”
Crump, the attorney for Blake’s family, gave a similar account, writing on Twitter, “He was getting into his car after apparently breaking up a fight between two women.”