The shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, WI police has prompted outcry after a video posted to social media raised troubling questions.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
Taya Graham: Hello. My name is Taya Graham. This is Stephen Janis. We’re here for the Police Accountability Report, giving you a breaking news update. Jacob Blake, age 29, father of three, was just shot in the back at least seven times by the Kenosha, Wisconsin Police Department. We have the video footage here. It is extremely disturbing. We’re giving you a warning right now. Stephen, can you tell us what we’re seeing?
Stephen Janis: Well, the video starts at a point we don’t know. We know that the police department said that they had responded to some sort of domestic dispute. People on the scene had said that [Mr. Price 00:00:38] had just broken up a fight. But as you can see here, the police officers are following him around the van with their gun drawn. Once he gets around the van and Mr. Price tries to enter the van, the police grab him by the shirt and pump bullets into his back. People on the scene described it as disturbing. As you can see, a young woman responds. She’s screaming. She’s upset.
There’s a tremendous amount of agony in the community this occurs, and I think most people can agree upon a disturbing scene when a police officer grabs someone, which means they can’t really do anything, respond to any sort of-
Taya Graham: They can’t really comply in any way.
Stephen Janis: Yeah. They can’t respond to any commands or anything and then proceeds to pump bullets into him. So, that’s why this particular case is under investigation and has drawn national attention.
Taya Graham: And just an aside, Jacob Blake is a father of three and he was shot in front of his three boys who were in the car at the time of the shooting. So, not only did the police officers risk the life of Jacob Blake, but they also risked the life of the children that were present on the scene. So, Stephen, what have the police said so far?
Stephen Janis: Well, we have a statement here from police provided to us by our reporting colleague, Steve Horn, who got this to us because he actually is from Kenosha, Wisconsin. It says, “At 5:11 PM, Kenosha police officers were sent to the 2800 block of 40th street for a domestic incident and were involved in the shooting. Officers provided immediate aid to the person.” That’s all they said. They have not identified the officers or said whether the officers had body cam running at the time. They have suspended the officers, but not identified them, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice has taken over the case and is supposedly investigating, so this will not be investigated by the Kenosha Police Department. We don’t know though what that really means for this case or how quickly it will proceed. But of course, there is plenty of calls in the community for these officers to be prosecuted.
Taya Graham: Now, you noted something interesting, which is that the police posted this statement before the video of the witness was released. So, perhaps the statement of the police will change now that this video has been released to the point.
Stephen Janis: Yeah. I think the video creates a lot of questions that have to be answered. Why did the police have their guns drawn when we should know that Mr. Price was unarmed? Why did the police officer feel the need to hold onto his shirt while he was shooting him? Which I think seems to me to be an unusual technique, but I can’t say for sure. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve covered police shootings for almost two decades. So, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, and I think it’s interesting that the statement, as you point out, was issued prior to the video coming out, and then after the video, now they’ve clammed up.
Taya Graham: Since this video has been released to the public, there has been activism on the street. There has been protest. Jacob is in the intensive care unit in Milwaukee right now. He has gone through surgery. As far as we know, he has survived the surgery, but his family, of course, is extremely concerned. We’re going to keep you updated on the case of the shooting of Mr. Blake. We’re going to keep you updated on his status, and of course, we’re going to closely follow the police investigation. My name is Taya Graham, this is Stephen Janis, and this is the Police Accountability Report. Please be safe out there.
Host & Producer
Before joining TRNN as an investigative journalist, Taya worked in Baltimore’s neighborhoods of color for years as an advocate and was awarded the Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Torchbearer Award and YANA’s (You Are Never Alone) “Love in Action” award. Her years of outreach to underserved communities have uniquely prepared her to connect with city residents. Now she cultivates relationships with Baltimore’s citizens to cover the stories on the ground.
Stephen Janis is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work has been acclaimed both in print and on television. As the Senior Investigative Reporter for the now defunct Baltimore Examiner, he won two Maryland DC Delaware Press Association Awards for his work on the number of unsolved murders in Baltimore and the killings of prostitutes. His in-depth work on the city's zero-tolerance policing policies garnered an NAACP President's Award. As an Investigative Producer for WBFF/Fox 45, he has won three successive Capital Emmys: two for Best Investigative Series and one for Outstanding Historical/Cultural Piece.
He is the author of three books on the philosophy of policing: Why Do We Kill? The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore; You Can't Stop Murder: Truths About Policing in Baltimore and Beyond; and The Book of Cop: A Testament to Policing That Works. He has also written two novels, This Dream Called Death and Orange: The Diary of an Urban Surrealist. He teaches journalism at Towson University.