KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS) — “He’s a human being and he matters,” the father of Jacob Blake said at a news conference in Kenosha on Tuesday, two days after his son was shot by police there.
Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., spoke at a news conference along with attorneys and other family members. Attorney Ben Crump said Blake has been paralyzed and it will take a “miracle” for him to fully recover.
“His family is very faithful and they believe in miracles. But the medical diagnosis right now isthat he is paralyzed, and because those bullets severed his spinal cord and shattered some of his vertebrae… it is going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr. to ever walk again,” Crump said.
Attorney Patrick Salvi added that Blake was also left with holes in his stomach, had to have nearly his entire small intestine remove, and suffered kidney and liver damage. He was also shot in the arm, Salvi said.
Salvi said Blake was shot at least seven and as many as eight times.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, a Mexican restaurant, a furniture store, and a car dealership were just a few of the buildings turned partly to ash in Kenosha Monday night as unrest erupted for a second night following Blake’s shooting. But as the embers cooled, reckoning was still a ways off for Blake’s family.
“To recover from this brutal use excessive force, once again on an African-American, that was captured on video,” Crump said.
And while the family is filing a civil lawsuit and hoping for justice in the criminal justice system, the humanity – or lack thereof – is what brought Blake’s father to tears.
“They shot my son seven times – seven times, like he didn’t matter,” said Jacob Blake Sr. “But my son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”
Another attorney, B. Ivory LaMarr, emphasized that the shooting that wounded Blake is one of many examples of unjust violence by police.
“We have a very clear example,” LaMarr said. “If George Floyd wasn’t clear enough, today, we stand before you with another one.”
Of the Kenosha Police Department, LaMarr said, “How long is it going to take for them to terminate the officers involved in this tragedy?”
Before the news conference, the family surveyed the damage in the center of Kenosha.
At the news conference, Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, called for unity and condemned the looting and arsons that have been happening in Kenosha over the past couple of nights.
“It doesn’t reflect my son or my family,” Jackson said. “The violence and the destruction – he would be very unpleased. So I’m really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment in expanding your hearts. Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians – do hake up justice on this level and examine your hearts.”
Blake’s sisters also spoke at the news conference, with one, Letetra Wideman, saying: “I’m not sad. I don’t want your pity. I want change.”
“I’m angry and I’m tired. I haven’t cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb,” Wideman said. “I have been watching police murder people who look like me for years.”
In the back seat of the vehicle in which Blake was shot were three of his children – boys ages 3, 5, and 8. The oldest son had been celebrating his birthday, attorneys said.
“All my grandson has asked, repeatedly, is, ‘Why did the police shoot my daddy in the back?’” Blake Sr. said.
Blake is in a of pain, but his mother said he told her a joke and he wanted to pray, so he asked the police officer in the hospital room if he was a man of faith and the three of them prayed together.
Blake’s sister said what is different about this case and many others of racial injustice this year is that her brother survived. She said it doesn’t surprise her, because he has always been a survivor.
The family made clear that Blake does not know what led up to his injuries, nor what happened in the aftermath in the last 48 hours.
Blake’s family is filing a civil lawsuit both to hold the officers involved to account, and to help with Blake’s outstanding medical bills.
Crump said there will also be a march on Washington this week, to which the families of Blake, Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other families have been invited. The goal is to “change the culture and the behavior of the policing in America before we have another Black person killed unjustifiably,” Crump said.
Meanwhile Tuesday, questions remained about the details of what led up to the shooting of Blake by police. The 911 call that set this all in motion had the caller saying that Blake should not have been at the house at 40th Street and 28th Avenue and refused to give them their keys back.
When Tye asked for the family’s version of what happened Sunday afternoon, attorney Crump glided past it – knowing it will be a central piece of evidence and testimony in both civil and criminal cases associated with the shooting.