Police shoot Black man in the back in Wisconsin city, sparking unrest

By Nathan Layne and Daniel Trotta (Reuters) - Police shot a Black man in the back multiple times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as his three sons watched on Sunday, his family's lawyer said, sparking a night of unrest during which protesters hurled firebombs and drawing condemnation from the governor.

Reuters August 25, 2020 00:10:35 IST
Police shoot Black man in the back in Wisconsin city, sparking unrest

Police shoot Black man in the back in Wisconsin city sparking unrest

By Nathan Layne and Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) - Police shot a Black man in the back multiple times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as his three sons watched on Sunday, his family's lawyer said, sparking a night of unrest during which protesters hurled firebombs and drawing condemnation from the governor.

The victim, 29-year-old Jacob Blake, was taken to a hospital in serious condition after the shooting late Sunday afternoon. Blake's father told NBC News on Monday that his son was out of surgery and in stable condition.

A video circulating on social media showed Blake walking toward the driver's side of a gray SUV followed by two officers with their guns drawn at his back. Seven gunshot sounds can be heard as Blake, who appears to be unarmed, opens the car door.

It was unknown whether the officers saw something inside the vehicle to justify deadly force. It was also not clear whether one or both officers fired their weapons.

Crowds gathered at the scene, set fires and threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at police, prompting authorities to impose a curfew through early Monday morning. Kenosha County announced on Twitter that its courthouse and administration building would be closed due to damage from the unrest.

Wisconsin Governor Evers, a Democrat, issued a statement noting that Blake had been shot in the back in "broad daylight" and urged all to stand against "excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites."

Pete Deates, president of the city's police union, the Kenosha Professional Police Association, called Evers' statement "wholly irresponsible," noted that the video may not capture all elements of the incident and asked the public to withhold judgment until all facts are known.

The shooting of Blake occurred three months after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and structural racism in the United States.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat seeking to defeat Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, on Monday called for the officers to be held accountable and for the dismantling of systemic racism.

"And this morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force," Biden said in a statement. "These shots pierce the soul of our nation."

CROWDS MARCH

Social media posts showed crowds marching on Sunday evening down streets in Kenosha, a city of around 100,000 people on Lake Michigan about 65 miles (100 km) north of Chicago.

Clyde McLemore, a member of a nearby chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, said he was helping organize a protest at noon CDT (1700 GMT) on Monday that would walk from Blake's house to the courthouse and police station about 2-1/2 miles (4 km) away in Kenosha.

Whitney Cabal, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Kenosha who is also known by her social media name Billy Violet, said her group has staged protests following two other incidents of police use of force in recent weeks and has been dissatisfied with the police response.

"This city is not going to stop burning itself down until they (protesters) know that this officer has been fired," she said. "There was no reason for seven shots to be fired into this man's back while he had three kids in the car."

The shooting occurred around 5 p.m. as officers were responding to what they termed a "domestic incident." The victim was immediately taken to a hospital by the police, according to a Kenosha Police Department statement. No further explanation was given by the police as to what led to the shooting.

Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said he had been retained by the Blake family and who has represented George Floyd's family, said in a statement that Blake had been trying to de-escalate a domestic incident when the officers first shot him with a taser gun.

"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," Crump said.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said early on Monday. Officers are routinely placed on leave after a shooting involving law enforcement until an investigation has been completed.

The state's Division of Criminal Investigation said it would work to issue a report to prosecutors within 30 days.

(additional reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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