Jacob Blake’s father has said his “happy-go-lucky” son is optimistic for his future, despite being paralysed from the waist down after being shot seven times in the back by a police officer.
Jacob Blake Sr, speaking on a video call from a Milwaukee hotel, told the Associated Press that the past two weeks have been “surreal” and “like a dream” since the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and he is mentally worn out.
He has driven from North Carolina to be with his son in hospital.
Mr Blake Sr said he has been receiving death threats, which he said he could not talk about in detail.
“It’s been hard on everybody,” he added.
Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot on August 23 in Kenosha, setting off days of protests that made Wisconsin the epicentre of the nation’s ongoing debate over police violence and racial injustice.
Over three days, dozens of fires were set and some Kenosha businesses were destroyed.
On August 25, prosecutors say a 17-year-old from Illinois shot and killed two demonstrators.
Lawyers say the teenager, who was patrolling the streets with a rifle, was acting in self-defence.
Mr Blake was released from intensive care this week and “is doing a little bit better”, his father said.
Still, “from the waist down, no movement,” Mr Blake Sr said. “He can’t move.”
Mr Blake Sr told the AP he talks with his son about what he will be able to do once he is released from hospital, rather than his limitations if he remains paralysed.
“We’ll go fishing together in the chair,” he said. “I’ve got the perfect spot for us. Things of that nature, things that have nothing to do with the sickness or anything.”
Five days after the shooting, Mr Blake Sr followed through on his plans to attend the March on Washington commemoration in the nation’s capital.
His father had marched with Martin Luther King Jr, and Jacob Blake Sr said he considered it his “duty” to attend the march even though his son was in hospital.
Earlier this week, Mr Blake Sr said another one of his sons had a nervous breakdown and was admitted to hospital. Two days after that, members of the Blake family met Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Kenosha.
Jacob Blake spoke to Mr Biden by phone from hospital.
President Donald Trump travelled to Kenosha on Tuesday. He thanked law enforcement for their efforts in quelling violence and met people whose businesses were destroyed in fires, but he did not meet with Mr Blake’s family.
Mr Blake Sr said Mr Trump made it clear he has no interest in his family. He said meeting with Mr Biden and his wife was like speaking with an uncle and aunt.
“He came in that room with sympathy, empathy, a caring nature,” Mr Blake Sr said. “It was not an interview, it was not a political thing.”
The Blake family told Mr Biden that they want all police to be required to have body cameras, something the Kenosha officers did not have.
Mr Blake Sr said the family also told the former vice president they want police trained in de-escalation techniques. And they want the officer who shot Mr Blake to be sacked.
“There’s nothing that my son did that justifies getting shot seven times in his back,” Mr Blake Sr said. “Nothing.”
All three officers present when Mr Blake was shot are on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
The state agency said police were sent to the scene after a woman reported her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.
Mr Blake’s lawyer Ben Crump has said that Mr Blake was trying to break up a domestic dispute.
The US justice department said a knife was recovered from an SUV he was leaning into when he was shot, but has not said whether Mr Blake was holding it when officers tried to arrest him.
The man who made a widely seen video of the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Mr Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them shout: “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. He said he did not see a knife in Mr Blake’s hands.
The Kenosha police union said Mr Blake had the knife and refused orders to drop it. Mr Blake fought with police, including putting one officer in a headlock, the union said. Police twice used a Taser, which did not stop Mr Blake.
Mr Blake, who had an outstanding arrest warrant when he was shot, pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a woman in May and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Mr Blake appeared remotely via video conference from his Milwaukee hospital bed, wearing a dress shirt and tie. He spoke only to respond to the judge’s questions. A trial date was set for November 9.