Image copyright Ingrid and Patrick Swift
“I’ve never, ever felt so low, and I’ve seen so much. I think I’m a target,” Jacob Blake says in a phone call with his parents.
The 25-year-old’s parents are in tears. He is sitting in an armchair in their basement home in Roscoe, a village in northern Illinois.
“You don’t mean this to happen,” his father, Patrick, tells him, “but you brought it on yourself.”
“Yeah, sure,” says Jacob, silently unable to recover.
“I didn’t deserve this,” his mother, Ingrid, says.
Jacob, a 30-year-old walking-tour guide and hip-hop artist, says the painful gun wound to his chest is now inflamed. On top of the chronic pain, he is incurring an antibiotic skin infection, plus much higher drug costs than he and his parents expected.
After the 27 February shooting, his family’s recovery has been disrupted. The police say they are investigating, but a critical amount of footage of the incident is not available because of ongoing litigation.
The case became public on Thursday, when the medical examiner’s office added him to the list of people fatally shot by officers in Dane County last year.
Police said the young man was shot after throwing objects at officers, and it was later determined that the items were road flares.
‘Evocative and violent’
The physical recovery will take time. Since then, the clinical situation has been difficult to understand, his parents say.
They have gone to the hospital for additional appointments. Last month, Jacob’s parents were called to the emergency room, where he was put in intensive care.
“The place was so evocative and violent,” says Ingrid. “If he doesn’t talk, he’s moved his hands around, his feet up, and he says, ‘I don’t feel good.'”
Image copyright Susan Blohm-Blohm/Fulton County Sheriff’s Department
He had a CT scan, which a doctor believes shows trauma to his heart, some infections on his lungs, and a bit of inflammation in his chest.
“The doctor told us there’s a chance that he could [die] if he doesn’t get better,” says Ingrid.
Jacob says he knows what he has done.
“My intent was to set some impact for them,” he says. “But you know, I didn’t mean this to happen to me.”
Sorting out legal issues
It will take more time and money than his parents had expected to recover.
As well as the physical therapy required, they have also had to pay for “drama school”.
His lawyers are representing him. “You can’t expect Jacob to understand all the issues because he didn’t really have any before this happened,” says Ingrid.
One bigger problem could be the financial expenses of trying to hold off legal action.
In a statement this week, the family’s attorney, Susan Blohm-Blohm, said they knew there would be “dangers and hardship” but wanted to “respect their wishes”.
Jacob thinks that might not be entirely possible. “I understand that they are trying to protect themselves,” he says.
But he believes he is owed some compensation.
“I know I have to do this for my life, but at least I deserve a chance,” he says.
“I’m up there fighting for my life, so why wouldn’t I want something back?”