Shot US black man ‘needs miracle to walk again’

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Jacob Blake (left) was shot several times in the back by police

The lawyers for the family of a black man shot in the back by police in the US state of Wisconsin say he will need a “miracle” to walk again.

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot “at least seven” times as he went to a car and opened its door in Kenosha.

At least one of the bullets went through his spinal cord, lawyers said.

The shooting of Mr Blake sparked protests, violent at times. The governor of Wisconsin is sending more National Guard troops to Kenosha.

Mr Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, called for “healing”, saying her son would disapprove of the violence seen during the protests.

As a result of the partial or complete severing of his spinal cord, Mr Blake is paralysed, with doctors unsure if he will recover the use of his legs.

“His family believe in miracles, but the medical diagnosis right now is that he is paralysed 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,” lawyer Ben Crump told a press conference on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old, shot as his young sons screamed in the car, was also left with holes in his stomach, an arm injury and damage to his kidney and liver. Most of his colon and small intestine had to be removed, his lawyers told reporters.

Ms Jackson told the press conference that her son had been “fighting for his life”, but said if he “knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased”.

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Buildings have been burnt down during protests in Kenosha

Pictures from the city of about 100,000 on the south-western shore of Lake Michigan show buildings and cars damaged following two nights of protests against police violence.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said he would send more National Guard troops to Kenosha to protect state buildings and support first responders and firefighters.

Mr Blake’s shooting comes as the US grapples with the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, as well as wider questions about racism in society, since the death in police custody in Minneapolis of another black man, George Floyd, in May.

In her emotional speech, Ms Jackson addressed racism directly, reminding those listening that “no one is superior to the other”.

“We need healing,” Ms Jackson told reporters. “As I pray for my son’s healing – physically, emotionally and spiritually – I also have been praying even before this for the healing of our country… We are the United States. Have we been united?

“Do you understand what is going to happen when we fall – because a house that is against each other cannot stand.”

What is happening with the protests?

Within hours of Mr Blake’s shooting, hundreds of people had marched on Kenosha’s police headquarters. Cars were later set alight, and police urged 24-hour businesses to consider closing because of “numerous” calls about armed robberies and shots being fired.

On Monday, Governor Evers called up the National Guard to aid local police and imposed a night-time curfew on Kenosha.

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Media captionThe US police shooting of Jacob Blake sparks protests in Wisconsin

But some ignored the curfew, and police used tear gas to try to force protesters – some of whom were throwing water bottles – to disperse. Police, backed up by the National Guard, also used rubber bullets and smoke bombs, protesters said.

Some demonstrators were seen attacking cars and property with baseball bats, news agency Reuters reported, while others set cars alight.

Protests have also spread to a number of other cities, including Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

What do we know about the shooting?

Kenosha Police Department said the “officer-involved shooting” happened shortly after 17:00 on Sunday.

Police said they were responding to a domestic incident, but so far it is so unclear who called the police, how many officers were involved, and what happened before the shooting. Police in Kenosha do not have body cameras, although they do have microphones.

Lawyers for Mr Blake said he had been trying to “de-escalate a domestic incident” when police drew their weapons.

The person who shot the video, Raysean White, told CNN that before he began taking it, he saw police wrestle, punch and Taser Mr Blake.

It was then he started recording. Mr Blake is shown walking around the front of the SUV. The two officers closest to Mr Blake at this point on the video are white males.

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Wisconsin’s Department of Justice is investigating the incident

As Mr Blake opens the door and leans into the car, one officer can be seen grabbing his shirt and opening fire. Seven shots can be heard in the video, as witnesses shout and scream.

Mr Blake’s fiancée Laquisha Booker, described how the children – who witnessed everything as they sat in the back of the car – were screaming as their father was shot.

Speaking to a local NBC channel, she asked why the police would shoot someone “who’s not armed, not giving you no problems”.

“I’ve been yelling that the whole time, let me get my kids. So that’s not important to y’all. What’s important is killing somebody,” she added.

Police said that officers had provided “immediate aid” to Mr Blake, who was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee in serious condition.

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