Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced that no charges will be filed against Officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake seven times.
On August 23, 2020, Officers Rusten Sheskey, Vincent Arenas, and Brittany Meronek responded to a call from a woman who reported that her boyfriend wasn’t supposed to be around and was refusing to leave. Video footage taken by a bystander’s cellphone shows Blake approach an SUV, which contained his three children in the backseat, while police followed him shouting with guns drawn. Sheskey then grabs Blake’s shirt and shoots him in the back seven times at close range. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
According to Patrick Salvi Jr, who is one of Blake’s attorneys, “He had a bullet go through some or all of his spinal cord, at least one bullet. He has holes in his stomach.” Salvi continued, “He had to have nearly his entire colon and small intestines removed.”
Sheskey’s attorney, Brendan Matthews, said Sheskey used deadly force because Blake began turning towards him with a knife in hand. Earlier on in the investigation, Sheskey told police that he had used deadly force because he thought Blake was trying to kidnap the children sitting in the back seat of the SUV.
Blake did admit to having a “razor blade-type knife” with him as these events unfolded, but maintains that he did not threaten anyone. State investigators have not said whether Blake did or didn’t threaten anyone with a knife. None of the officers on the scene had body cameras.
The shooting, which involved a white police officer shooting a black man, sparked outrage in Kenosha resulting in protests. Over 250 people were arrested at the protests in the following days, including 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse who fatally shot two men and injured another. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.
READ: Who Is Kyle Rittenhouse?
On Tuesday, Graveley announced that Sheskey will not be facing charges. Neither will the other officers involved, nor will Blake.
Graveley says that because Blake admitted to holding a knife, it would be very hard to overcome Sheskey’s claim that he was protecting himself.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake’s family, expressed their disappointment in the decision, saying, “We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice.” Adding, “We urge Americans to continue to raise their voices and demand change in peaceful and positive ways during this emotional time.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced that 500 National Guard Troops have been mobilized in Wisconsin in preparation for public backlash about Graveley’s decision.