Witnesses who saw a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shoot Jacob Blake on Sunday told Insider what they saw happen.
One man said he thought Blake was going back to the vehicle to check on his three young sons in the back seat.
While that man now says he thinks the officer was justified in shooting Blake, several other neighbors who witnessed the shooting disagree and say police used unnecessary force.
Witnesses who saw a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shoot Jacob Blake on Sunday speculated that the 29-year-old father was checking on his three young sons when he opened the driver's side door of his SUV seconds before getting shot.
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"Knowing Jacob, that's what he was doing. His kids are his priority. He wanted to make his kids safe," Dan Stone, who lives across the street from Blake and was there when he was shot, told Insider.
Stone, 68, said he has known Blake for about five years and referred to him as a "family man" who "took care of his family."
"The kids were screaming in the back seat, like any normal little kids would be. They sense that," Stone, who has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years, said.
Another longtime resident, Annie Louise Hurst, 80, was sitting in a chair in front of her home when the shooting happened. Her house is diagonal to Blake's, and she said she screamed when she saw an officer shoot him.
"He was just walking and opening the car door and trying to get in. He wasn't aggressive or nothing," Hurst told Insider, adding that she didn't know Blake very well but they would greet each other in passing.
Hurst, who's lived in her home since 1967, said she believed Blake and his sons were celebrating one of the boy's birthdays on Sunday. A man who said he was Blake's friend told a local news reporter the same.
A graphic video circulating on social media shows Blake walking away from police officers and attempting to get in his vehicle when an officer grabs his shirt and shoots him from behind. Seven shots can be heard.
Arlene Archilla, who lives two doors down from Hurst, had come home right before the shooting. Afterward, she said, the children were distraught.
"I [saw] one of the children laying down in the grass and [having] a panic attack," Archilla, 44, told Insider.
The shooting left Blake with a severed spinal cord that has paralyzed him from the waist down, according to civil-rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Blake's family in this case.
The Kenosha Police Department said in a statement that it was responding to a "domestic incident," which Blake's neighbors said he was trying to de-escalate.
"Jacob was breaking up a fight between two girls," Stone said.
When Insider spoke with Stone, a former Chicago police officer, on Tuesday, he said the "police shouldn't have shot" Blake, adding, "They should've brought him down to the ground. Scrapes and cuts are a lot better than getting shot."
The Kenosha Police Department hasn't released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. Initially, Stone said he thought the officer may have been a "rookie who didn't know what he was doing," suggesting that new police-academy graduates should "wait at least a year" before getting a weapon.
But on Wednesday, Stone expressed a different opinion.
"Thought he was a rookie, and he wasn't and has been on the force for a long time," Stone said. "He got nervous, that's all. Just like any other cop would get nervous."
In the video of the shooting, it's difficult to hear whether the police told Blake to stop before shooting him, but Stone said they did and 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 told Insider on Wednesday.
'They didn't have to shoot'
But Hurst and the other witnesses Insider spoke with said they thought the Kenosha police officers responded excessively.
"They could've apprehended him better than that. They didn't have to shoot, in my opinion, that little man," she said, suggesting that officers could've tackled him to the ground.
Archilla, like Hurst, referenced Blake's small stature, calling him "skinny," and said the officers' response didn't make sense given what was happening.
"He didn't have to shoot him seven times. Not even once," Archilla said.
They all said they didn't see 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."
Since Blake's shooting, protesters have gathered in Kenosha each night to denounce racism and police brutality.
Three people were shot, two fatally, during clashes between protesters and armed civilians late Tuesday night despite the city being under a mandatory 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew. A 17-year-old was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in those shootings.
Several businesses and government buildings have been vandalized, prompting a small group of armed people to defend private and public property around the city. Wisconsin is an open-carry state.
"Because these officers made a bad decision, everybody has to pay for it," Archilla said.
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