No Charges Filed Against Kenosha Officers in Jacob Blake Case
Kenosha, WI – Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday that there would be no charges filed against Officer Rusten Sheskey in the August 23 Jacob Blake shooting.
Graveley pointed to several reasons for his decision, including the fact that Blake was getting into his vehicle after telling police he had a weapon inside. He was ordered by police several times to drop the knife in his hand, which he failed to do. Police had tased Blake three times unsuccessfully before shooting him as he got into his SUV after being in a heated argument with his fiance.
His fiance had called 911 to say Blake took the keys to her rental car. Police knew that there was at least one child in the car in question, and that Blake had at least one felony warrant.
The Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation reported that Blake admitted to having a knife in his possession during the encounter, and a knife was found on the driver’s side floorboard of Blake’s vehicle, which is where he was at the time of the shooting.
CBS News reported, “[Graveley] said Blake was carrying a knife in his right hand and twisted his body towards Sheskey just before the officer opened fire. Graveley said Sheskey, another officer and two civilian witnesses all described the twisting motion, though he said the car door blocks it from view in the video.”
Graveley explained that the prosecutor’s office didn’t believe they had enough evidence to obtain a guilty verdict from a jury against the officers. Graveley said, “Sheskey says, ‘I don’t know what (Blake) is going to do. Is he going to hurt the child? Is he going to take off in the vehicle? Are we going to be in a vehicle pursuit with the kid in the car? Will he hold the child hostage?'”
We’ve deleted a previous tweet that incorrectly described Jacob Blake as unarmed. While his family has said he was not armed when shot by police, prosecutors on Tuesday said video evidence depicts him holding a knife. The story has been corrected.
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 6, 2021
A medical examiner, who usually conducts autopsies, reviewed Blake’s seven gunshot wounds. The examiner said the three wounds on the left side were consistent with the twisting motion allegedly being made towards Officer Sheskey.
Graveley also said that the Wisconsin Department of Justice hired an outside use-of-force expert. This expert also said Sheskey’s actions were reasonable.
Blake’s family is reportedly outraged by this conclusion. His father, Jacob Blake Sr., urged people to “stand up and make some noise.” He said, “Let’s be heard around the world.” The family believes Officer Sheskey should be going to prison for attempted murder. They will be filing a civil suit in the near future, according to their attorney.
Local authorities had requested the National Guard to be activated on Monday, prior to the announcement, which Governor Tony Evers did. Five hundred troops were sent into the city in preparation for potential unrest and rioting. There was also a state of emergency declared which allowed the city to enact a curfew, and fencing was set up around the courthouse. Some businesses boarded windows as well.
The three officers involved, Sheskey and Officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek, remain on admin leave.