The white officer involved in Jacob Blake's shooting will not face criminal charges.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced the news Tuesday, more than four months after officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake—a 29-year-old Black man—seven times in the back. Though Blake survived the shooting, he was left paralyzed from the waist down.
"It is my decision now, that I announce today before you, that no Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and the laws ..." Graveley said during a press conference. "So it is our decision that no charge will be filed. I'm gonna also tell you—just because I feel that it is important—that no charge will be filed against Jacob Blake in regards to this incident, as well."
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley: "No Kenosha law enforcement officer in [the Jacob Blake] case will be charged with any criminal offense."— The Recount (@therecount) January 5, 2021
Graveley follows that with: Also, "no charge will be filed against Jacob Blake." pic.twitter.com/Rg7e5IOTlV
Blake was shot on Aug. 23, 2002, by officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call. Video taken by a bystander showed Blake moving toward the passenger door of an SUV with his young children inside. As Blake leaned into the vehicle, officer Sheskey is seen grabbing the man by the shirt before he began shooting. The footage fueled the social injustice protests that were already sweeping the nation in wake of George Floyd's police killing.
During Tuesday's press conference, Graveley claimed Blake was resisting arrest and was armed with a knife before the officer opened fire. The DA said Sheskey—who has been with the Kenosha Police Department for seven years—was acting in self-defense. He also claimed officers initially used a taser and tried to wrestle Blake before the shooting.
"It's really evidence about the perspective of Officer Sheskey at each moment and what would a reasonable officer do at each moment," Graveley continued. "Almost none of those things are answered in that deeply disturbing video that we’ve all seen. ... Officer Sheskey felt he was about to be stabbed."
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Patrick A. Salvi II and B'Ivory LaMarr released a statement in response to the DA's decision; it read in part:
... We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice.
Officer Sheskey’s actions sparked outrage and advocacy throughout the country, but the District Attorney’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Jacob in the back multiple times, leaving him paralyzed, further destroys trust in our justice system. This sends the wrong message to police officers throughout the country. It says it is OK for police to abuse their power and recklessly shoot their weapon, destroying the life of someone who was trying to protect his children.
... We will continue to press forward with a civil lawsuit and fight for systemic change in policing and transparency at all levels. We urge Americans to continue to raise their voices and demand change in peaceful and positive ways during this emotional time.