Cops in Wisconsin “must be held accountable” after shooting a Black man in the back in front of his young children, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Monday.
Police shot Jacob Blake, 29, multiple times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday as he opened the door to a vehicle where, an attorney hired by his family said, his three children sat. Blake was taken to a Milwaukee hospital and is stable after coming out of surgery, NBC News reported.
The officers involved were placed on administrative leave as an investigation takes place, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Monday. It was not immediately clear how many officers shot Blake.
The shooting, the latest in a string of police violence against Black Americans captured on video this year, sparked uproar and protests against systemic racism in Wisconsin. Democratic politicians called not only for justice for Blake but also for changes to address systemic racism at the root of excessive use of force against Black people.
“This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable,” Biden said in a statement Monday.
“These shots pierce the soul of our nation. Jill and I pray for Jacob’s recovery and for his children,” the former vice president continued. “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.”
A man confronts police outside the Kenosha Police Department in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., during protests following the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake August 23, 2020. Picture taken August 23, 2020. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY via REUTERS MANDATORY CREDIT
Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Reuters
President Donald Trump, who has embraced only limited changes to hold police more accountable for using excessive force, was set to be briefed on the shooting Monday. So far this year, he has focused his attention more on the protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor than the violence committed by law enforcement.
Efforts to hold cops more responsible for excessive force and to reform policing will play a role in November’s presidential election between Trump and Biden.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice gave few details about the shooting. It said police responded to a “reported domestic incident” in Kenosha on Sunday evening before the shooting.
The office of Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney retained by Blake’s family, said 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,” Crump’s office said.
In a statement, Crump said Blake’s “three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets.” He called it a “miracle” that Blake is still alive.
“We will seek justice for Jacob Blake and for his family as we demand answers from the Kenosha Police Department. How many more of these tragic ‘while Black’ tragedies will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of Black lives by the police finally stops?” Crump said.
Raysean White, a 22-year-old who filmed the video, told NBC that he heard women arguing across the street from his apartment. Then, the man later identified as Blake arrived in a truck. White later saw police “wrestling” with Blake, and then started to record after he saw an officer tase Blake.
White also heard police yelling “drop the knife,” according to NBC. But he added, “I didn’t see any weapons in his hands, he wasn’t being violent.”
Police then fired shots as Blake moved to open the driver’s side door of the vehicle.