Neighbors and witnesses who saw a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer shoot Jacob Blake Sunday say the 29-year-old was probably checking on his children when he headed to his vehicle before officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots into the father's back.
According to Insider, people who witnessed the encounter testified that Blake was an involved father who prioritized his children’s safety.
"Knowing Jacob, that's what he was doing. His kids are his priority. He wanted to make his kids safe," neighbor Dan Stone told Insider on August 25.
In the gruesome recording of the incident, Blake is seen walking away from officers and opening his car door when one grabs his shirt and shoots him from behind.
This is the shooting video of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI. pic.twitter.com/yerWbsSxQU
— Austin Frisch (@Austin_Zone) August 24, 2020
Though police say they were responding to a domestic dispute call, witnesses have said that Blake was the responsible party by trying to deescalate the altercation.
"Jacob was breaking up a fight between two girls," Stone, who has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years, said.
None of Blake’s neighbors who were interviewed by Insider said they saw Blake carrying any type of weapon in his hands during the confrontation.
"Jacob didn't have nothing in his hands," Stone said. "He didn't have a knife in his hands. He didn't have a gun in his hands. He had his hands in his hands. And he was just trying to save his kids, probably."
Annie Louise Hurst, another long-term resident who witnessed the assault, noted Blake wasn’t the aggressor.
"He was just walking and opening the car door and trying to get in. He wasn't aggressive or nothing," she told Insider.
Hurst, 80, was sitting in front of her home when Blake was shot. She said police could have detained him without repeatedly shooting him.
"They could've apprehended him better than that. They didn't have to shoot, in my opinion, that little man," she said.
Stone, a former Chicago police officer, said he thought the officers could have restrained Blake without shooting him. When the shooting transpired, Stone thought a new recruit might have pulled the trigger and believes the department should wait a year before giving firearms to rookies. However, the 66-year-old acknowledged that police asked him to stop and said Blake didn’t listen.
"If a police officer wants you to stop, stop. They're there to do a job. Don't get rowdy with them. Don't get smart with them. Just stop and listen to what they've got to say. Bottom line. That goes for me also," Stone said.
Hurst, who's lived in her current home since 1967, recalled that Blake and his sons were celebrating one of the boy's birthdays on Sunday.
Witnesses say the children were caused a great deal of distress as a result of seeing their father nearly killed.
"The kids were screaming in the back seat, like any normal little kids would be. They sense that," Stone said.
Arlene Archilla, who also lives on the block where Blake was shot, arrived at home just as the event had been unfolding. She said she saw one of his children having, what looked like, an anxiety attack.
"I [saw] one of the children laying down in the grass and [having] a panic attack," Archilla said.
As Blavity previously reported, the shooting has left Blake with damage to his spinal cord that paralyzed him from the waist down. Attorney Ben Crump said it would be miraculous if Blake ever walks again, Fox 32 reports.
"Daddy, why did they shoot me so many times?" – #JacobBlake's first words to his father when he woke up.
Blake woke up, paralyzed, unable to walk and HANDCUFFED to his hospital bed.
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 27, 2020
The ensuing protests in Kenosha grew increasingly violent, leading up to a bloody Tuesday night, according to The New York Times. Three people were shot, two fatally, during clashes between protesters and gun-toting civilians. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in those shootings, Blavity previously reported.