The Criminal Justice Committee of the Rockford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has announced it will hold a symposium to discuss the shooting of Kerry Blake by a Rockford Police officer after an hours-long standoff on December 30th, 2018.
The incident began when a 37-year-old woman called police after she said a man, later identified as 44-year-old Kerry D. Blake, Jr., pushed her down and stole her mini van in the 300 block of Stanley Street around 1:35 p.m. Her two-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter were in the backseat. The woman’s 15-year-old son chased after the van and found his siblings at the corner of Chestnut and Avon, appearing to be unharmed.
Police say Blake drove to the 1100 block of Green Street and ran into a house. Officers tried to contact Blake but he refused to leave the home. At one point, police say he stood at the front door with a large metal bar in his hand, and threw a sword out the door while they tried to get him to surrender.
An arrest warrant was issued for the Blake, for two counts of unlawful restraint and possession of a stolen vehicle.
SWAT and tactical officers were called to the house because of the threats to the officers. After hours of failed negotiations, tactical officers entered the home around 8:15 pm. While trying to arrest Blake, police say he hit an officer, later identified as 17-year Rockford Police veteran Sgt. Matt Kranz, with a large pole and the officer shot him.
Blake was pronounced dead on the scene by the Rockford Fire Department. Kranz was treated and released from the scene.
The Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force was called to the scene and is investigating.
According to a statement released by the NAACP, “the death of Mr. Blake raises especially serious questions in that he was mentally ill, and it is reported that members of his family were not allowed to help bring about a nonviolent outcome. Simply waiting for the Integrity Task Force to issue a finding is not sufficient.”
The NAACP is holding a panel discussion at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 920 Third Avenue, on Sunday, February 10th at 3 p.m. The panel will include representatives of the NAACP, the Racial Justice committee of Rockford’s Eliminate Racism Initiative, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).