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Police officer who shot Jacob Blake won't face charges: what's the reason?

Kenosha District Attorney announced Tuesday that Rusten Sheskey will not face charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake in August which left him paralyzed.

Police officer who shot Jacob Blake won't face charges: what's the reason?
DANIEL ACKER REUTERS

Rusten Sheskey, a white officer, shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back while responding to a domestic incident in August. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Blake’s shooting came during a period of heightened anger and protest across the nation at police violence catalyzed by the death of George Floyd in May and Breonna Taylor in March among others. Throughout the summer protests called for an end to police brutality and police reform, turning violent at times.

Why did the police shoot Jacob Blake?

On 23 August, police responded to a domestic dispute complaint at the home of Blake’s girlfriend, who complained that he was there in violation of a restraining order. Police tried to arrest Blake, first using tasers which proved ineffective. In a video of the events, filmed by a neighbor, Blake is seen walking away from officers to his car, as he attempts to climb into his car one of the officers, Sheskey, shoots him several times at close range in the back.

Sheskey’s attorney said that the officer fired because he thought Blake was armed with a knife and was attempting to kidnap a child. Three of Blake’s children were in the car when the incident took place. The Wisconsin DOJ said that a knife was found on the floorboard of the vehicle.

Other witnesses and Blake’s family contest this narrative saying that Blake was trying to break up an argument between two women and was unarmed when he was shot.

Why did the District Attorney not file charges?

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said the decision was based on a review of over 40 hours of video and more than 200 reports. He said the decision was the “most independent and charging decision that possibly could be done” he said.

Graveley said that after looking at the evidence and consulting experts on the use of force that he could not find a case where a guilty verdict was beyond a reasonable doubt. He added that he would be “ethically obligated not to charge” the officers who were acting in self-defense in his view. The officers when responding to the call knew that there was an arrest warrant out for Blake and had their own safety to consider.

Graveley said "It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws." He added that Blake would not face any charges either.