Amir Vera and Brad Parks, CNN, January 5, 2021
Rusten Sheskey will not face charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday.
Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back while responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
“It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws,” Graveley said Tuesday.
Tuesday’s announcement comes as anger continues to mount across the country at the repeated deaths of Black people at the hands of police. The summer of 2020 saw protests — some of which turned violent — calling for police reform and an end to police brutality, sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
They were identified by the Wisconsin Justice Department in September as Officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek.
Blake will also not face charges, Graveley said.
Sheskey told investigators that he used deadly force during the chaotic encounter because he was afraid Blake, while attempting to flee the scene, was trying to kidnap a child in the backseat of the vehicle.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had said Blake had a knife in his possession and the weapon was found on the floorboard of his vehicle.
Blake family attorney Ben Crump, and co-counsels Patrick A. Salvi II and B’Ivory LaMarr, released a statement shortly after the announcement expressing their disappointment in the decision.
Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., on Monday called for charges against the officer while urging Kenosha to “stand up and make some noise.”
He added, “Let’s be heard around the world. We’re not going to stop in Kenosha. We’re headed to DC. We’re headed to Nancy Pelosi’s office. We’re headed to whoever is going to be in charge of the Senate. Because this has got to be federally heard, for not just my son, but for everybody who has suffered police brutality — everyone.”
Ahead of the decision, Kenosha officials prepared for potential unrest, with the City Council granting Mayor John Antaramian emergency powers once the announcement is made.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also announced Monday he is mobilizing 500 National Guard troops ahead of the decision at the request of local officials.