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Rusten Sheskey: who is the Kenosha cop who shot Jacob Blake?

The Police Department in Wisconsin has revealed the name of the officer who fired seven shots at point-blank range into the back of the 29-year-old black man.

El oficial de policía de Kenosha, Rusten Sheskey, posa para una foto en 2019 en Wisconsin. Las autoridades estatales identificaron a Sheskey, un veterano de siete años del Departamento de Policía de Kenosha, como el oficial que dispar
John SlocaAP

On 23 August 23, the US witnessed yet another act of police brutality, again pointing to the belief that systemic racism and abuse are far from being eradicated in the country. This time, it was Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, who was shot seven times in the back at point-blank range while trying to get into his vehicle, in a quiet street in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

To add to the tragic nature of the events that unfolded, inside that car were three of his six children. The moment was captured on video by someone nearby, who then uploaded it to social media and, unsurprisingly, the footage quickly went viral, unleashing the ire of millions of Americans, many of whom then took to the streets to demand justice, a further cry for an end to this behaviour, and for those responsible to be held accountable.

Three days after the attack, the Wisconsin Police Department formally released the identity of the officer who fired those shots at Blake. The police officer was Rusten Sheskey.

“Mr Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door, and leaned forward. While holding onto Mr Blake’s shirt, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired his service weapon 7 times. Officer Sheskey fired the weapon into Mr Blake’s back,” the department’s statement said.

Rusten Sheskey: who is the Kenosha cop who shot Jacob Blake?

Sheskey has served as an officer with the Kenosha Police Department since 1 April 2013. Before becoming an officer, Rusten spent three years with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Police Department, and during that time, he investigated three alleged hate crimes. It is also being reported that Sheskey's grandfather, Oreste Maraccini, also served in the Kenosha Police Department "for many years."

The Kenosha News in a 2019 article quoted Sheskey as saying "for the most part" he had always wanted to be a police officer. Sheskey's grandfather also worked in the Kenosha Police Department.

"What I like most is that you’re dealing with people on perhaps the worst day of their lives and you can try and help them as much as you can and make that day a little bit better," Sheskey told the newspaper's series spotlighting local residents. "We may not be able to make a situation right, or better, but we can maybe make it a little easier for them to handle during that time."

Public records link Sheskey to a home in Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 people near Lake Michigan and about 35 miles (56 km) south of Milwaukee.

In 2017, he was suspended for one day without pay for violating department policies and procedures related to department vehicles, according to a city record. The details of the violation were not provided.

Sheskey grew up near Kenosha in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. In 2010, he registered to vote as a Republican. Last December, he and his now-ex wife filed a joint petition for divorce, court records show.

Blake survived Sunday's shooting despite wounds to his spine and multiple organs, and may be permanently paralyzed, lawyers representing his family said.