A Kenosha officer, Rusten Sheskey, fired seven times on Aug. 30 at Mr. Blake, who was trying to get into a car. The shooting was captured by a neighbor on a disturbing video that quickly drew outrage on social media. It set off sometimes destructive demonstrations in Kenosha and quickly became a topic in the presidential race, drawing visits from President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Cortez Rice, a nephew of George Floyd, the man who was killed by the police in Minneapolis in May, said Mr. Blake’s own words about what had happened to him would hold a unique value. “Jacob’s got the chance — he’s going to get to speak,” Mr. Rice said.
Gregory Bennett Jr. organized a community event on Sunday in Kenosha at which state lawmakers heard demands from residents for change. A seat was left empty for Mr. Blake at the event — a reminder, organizers said, that he might yet be a voice for needed reform. Without such survivors, Mr. Bennett said, the stories are often muted.
“It would have been swept under the rug,” Mr. Bennett said. “There’s people whose family members have been shot and killed here in this city, and guess what? You never see a news camera or nothing.”
To be sure, others who became symbols of abuse at the hands of the police have survived to tell their stories. Rodney King, who was beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, and Abner Louima, who was tortured by New York police officers in 1997, both lived to describe what had been done to them. Mr. King, who died in 2012, and Mr. Louima, who started a real estate business in Florida, largely tried to move on.
Of people shot at by officers from the nation’s 50 largest police departments between 2010 and 2016, about two-thirds survived, according to data obtained by Vice News.
“There’s an invisibility to it,” Frank Edwards, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Rutgers, said of people who survive police shootings, adding that many of those survivors are charged with crimes and rarely draw public attention or speak publicly about their cases. “They fear retribution if they do speak,” he said.