KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Protesters set cars on fire, smashed windows and clashed with officers in riot gear after Kenosha police shot and wounded a Black man, apparently in the back, while responding to a call about a domestic dispute.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers condemned the shooting Sunday of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, who was hospitalized in serious condition. The three officers at the scene were placed on administrative leave, standard practice in a shooting by police, while the state Justice Department investigates.
Authorities in the former auto manufacturing hub of 100,000 people did not immediately disclose the race of the officers or say whether Blake was armed.
The shooting happened at around 5 p.m. Sunday and was captured from across the street on cellphone video that was posted online.
In the footage, Blake walks from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns pointed and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned.
Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Blake or how many of the officers fired. During the shooting, a Black woman can be seen screaming in the street and jumping up and down.
“While we do not have all of the details yet,” the governor said in a statement, “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 indicated he intends to take further action over the shooting.
“I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action,” the governor said. “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.”
Online court records indicate Kenosha County prosecutors charged Blake on July 6 with third-degree sexual assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with domestic abuse. An arrest warrant was issued for Blake the following day.
The records contain no further details and do not list an attorney for Blake.
In the unrest that followed Sunday night, social media posts showed neighbors gathering in the surrounding streets and shouting at police. Some could be heard chanting, “No justice, no peace!” Others appeared to throw objects at officers and damage police vehicles.
Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
In a scene that mirrored the widespread protests over the police shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people, marchers headed to the Kenosha County Public Safety Building, which houses the police and sheriff’s departments. Authorities mostly blocked off the building, which was closed on Monday because of damage, authorities said.
Laquisha Booker, who is Blake’s partner, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that her and Blake’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him.
“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.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented Floyd’s and Taylor’s families, said he has been retained by Blake’s family.
“We all watched the horrific video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back several times by Kenosha police,” Crump said in a statement. “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.”
Wisconsin’s Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke cautioned the public and elected officials against “racing towards judgment,” given how few details were known.
“The frustration & anger that many in our communities are feeling must be met with empathy, but cannot be further fueled by politicians’ statements or actions that can stoke flames of violence,” tweeted Steineke, who is white and lives about 140 miles north of Kenosha in Appleton.
For more than 100 years, Kenosha was an auto manufacturing center, but it has now largely transformed into a bedroom community given its location almost directly in between Milwaukee and Chicago.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press reporter Jeff Baenen contributed from Minneapolis.
- PHOTOS: Crash on Lynnhaven Parkway Thursday night
- Fight inside business leads to stabbing, then shooting in Newport News
- Elizabeth City police identify 19-year-old suspect in robbery
- Virginia Department of General Services scientist says federal funding needed to improve public health system
- COVID-19 relief package hangs in the balance as lawmakers stay along party lines