On August 23, African American Jacob Blake, 29, was shot 7 times in the back by the Kenosha, Wisconsin Police Department as he entered his car where his three children were seated. The Konosha Police say they were responding to a domestic incident, but it is 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.
The shooting was captured on a cell camera video. The person who shot the video, Raysean White, told CNN that before he began filming, he saw police wrestle, punch and Taser Jacob 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. As he 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 White told the AP news agency that he heard police officers shout “Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted, but said he didn’t see a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.
Attorney Patrick Salvi Jr., Blake’s lawyer, said his client did not have a weapon in the vehicle. The attorney also said that Blake, because of his injuries, has needed nearly all of his colon and small intestine removed, and suffered damage to his kidney, liver and arm. According to Blakes family, he has been left paralyzed from the waist down.
MAYOR KELLER AND CHIEF GEIER REACT TO SHOOTING
On August 25, Mayor Tim Keller posted on FACEBOOK at 4:55 pm the following;
“The heartbreaking shooting of Jacob Blake makes clear that even after months of community-driven action, our national reckoning with racism is just beginning. We have to stand for urgent change AND do the real work on police reform and racial justice until #BlackLivesMatter is a reflection of reality.”
On August 25, the following tweet about the shooting was sent out on the APD Twitter Account attributed to APD Chief Michael Geier:
“The senseless shooting of Jacob Blake once again shows why our community and communities across the nation are seeking justice and change. On Behalf of APD, I offer my sympathy to Jacob Blake’s family and his children who witnessed this disturbing act. I sincerely hope he makes a full recovery.”
Hours after the tweet, Chief Geier sent an email to his officers saying that tweet wasn’t from him. In the email to his officers, Geier said:
“Earlier today a statement was posted attributed to me that I had not prepared or approved. This was an error and will be addressed. With respect to the officer involved shooting in Wisconsin, I have faith in the justice system that the facts of the incident will ultimately be revealed and comments by me about that incident without all the facts would be premature and inappropriate.
I would hope that this is not similar to the incident like we saw in Minneapolis since that had a negative impact on the reputations of all officers across our nation. I was not even aware of this incident in Kenosha until after this statement was posted. I would never have prejudged or jumped to conclusions without having more information. I apologize for any misunderstanding and want to assure everyone that these were not my words.”
It has been reported that it was APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos who advised the chief to make a statement about the shooting. Gallegos issued the following statement:
“Understanding that our own community in Albuquerque has concerns about the use of force by police, I recommended a statement from Chief Geier to acknowledge the incident in Wisconsin and demonstrate our hardworking officers’ commitment to our ongoing reform efforts. The statement was posted on social media before chief had an opportunity to review it. When we realized the oversight, the post was removed.”
Links to news coverage are here:
APD UNION SWIFTLY CONDEMNS
Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association was quick to condemn what happened. Police Union President Shaun Willoughby said Chief’s Geier’s tweet was a rush to judgement and had this to say:
“The erosion of trust that this displays to the rank-and-file of the Albuquerque Police Department is just overwhelming. … The rank-and-file were– to say the least, were fundamentally and completely disappointed. … I would hope the individuals that are posting on behalf of the chief would not be so disconnected from what the chief feels and what’s going on in law enforcement nationally.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The video of the shooting of African American Jacob Blake in the back 7 times by the Kenosha Police officers in Wisconsin is as shocking as it gets, but the video is NOT from a police lapel camera. Links to 2 videos of the shooting are in the postscript below. Kenosha police officers are not equipped with body cameras. Kenosha Police squad vehicles have dashboard cameras, but authorities did not say if any part of the shooting had been captured on those police vehicle cameras. The video of the shooting was done by a bystander and it is not clear if Blake was armed with a weapon nor why the police felt it was necessary to use deadly force.
Chief Geier was absolutely correct in his email when he said comments by him about the shooting without all the facts would be premature and inappropriate, but the tweet was sent out anyway. An apology under the circumstances just does not cut it. Chief Geier and APD Spokesman Gallegos need to be held accountable for it as should Mayor Keller if he was aware that the tweet was being sent out or if he or CAO Sarita Nair ordered it to be sent out.
The fact that a tweet from APD Chief Geier was sent out in the first place without his knowledge is disturbing and a violation of APD standard operating procedures. Ostensibly, the tweet was sent out after conferring with Mayor Tim Keller’s office seeing as Keller issued his own statement on FACEBOOK at the same time and that is his right. However, directing that a tweet be sent out by the APD Chief without his consent would be an abuse of authority. It is a reflection that the Keller Administration is more concerned about public relations and not law enforcement. Chief Geier apologizing for the tweet and saying he did not send it out is proof he is not running his department, or at a minimum he does not know what the hell is going on.
A link to a report that has the day time shooting of Blake captured on video that went viral is here:
A link to a report that has a second video of the shooting is here: