The US Department of Justice released a statement on Friday that they will not press charges against a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake last year in Wisconsin— a shooting incident that sparked protests that resulted in the deaths of two others.
Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven times at Blake, a Black man, in August 2020 during a domestic disturbance in Kenosha. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the shooting, which spurred series of protests, some of which got violent.
Blake Was Wanted On A Felony Warrant, Armed With Knife
Earlier this year, state prosecutors determined not to file charges against Sheskey after footage documented Blake, who was wanted on a felony warrant, was armed with a knife. Days after the incident, the US Department of Justice initiated its own investigation.
According to the agency, a team of prosecutors from its Civil Rights Division and the US attorney’s office in Milwaukee investigated police reports, witness statements, dispatch logs, and videos of the incident and found there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Sheskey used unnecessary violence or violated Blake’s federal rights. Following the investigation, federal prosecutors concluded that the evidence produced was inadequate to establish Sheskey willfully committed excessive force.
Blake was confronted by Sheskey and other cops after responding to a complaint from a woman who reported that her boyfriend was not supposed to be at her residence. When they arrived on the scene, the woman informed them that Blake was attempting to take her children and her SUV.
Blake resisted the officers who were attempting to arrest him. Sheskey and another police proceeded to disable him with their stun guns but were unsuccessful. Blake attempted to enter the SUV while his small children were in the backseat, prompting Sheskey to yank his shirt. Sheskey told police he was afraid Blake would drive away with the kids or use them as hostages.
Sheskey Acted Out Of Self-Defense
Based on the footage recorded by a neighbor, Blake turned toward Sheskey with a knife in his hand and made a gesture toward the officer with the knife, inciting Sheskey to fire. Six of the bullets hit Blake, who is now paralyzed from the waist down. Authorities discovered an unfolded knife on Blake’s vehicle’s driver’s side floorboard.
Blake filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sheskey in March, alleging that the officer used “excessive and unwarranted” force. But, the findings of the Justice Department are consistent with Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s judgment that Sheskey fired in self-defense.