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Jacob Blake is taking legal action against Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha police officer who shot him six times in the back while responding to a “domestic incident.”
According to NBC Chicago, Blake’s legal team filed a civil lawsuit in Milwaukee federal court on Thursday, more than seven months after the incident that left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
“While Jacob Blake survived being shot six times, his devastating injuries are permanent and life-changing,” attorney Patrick Salvi II said in a statement. “The bullet that severed Jacob’s spinal cord has left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Jacob now suffers from an intractable pain syndrome. After various surgical procedures and an agonizing course of physical rehabilitation, Jacob remains unable to return to his job as a security guard and relies on others to assist him with the basic needs of daily living.”
Blake’s legal team, which includes civil rights attorney Ben Crump and B’Ivory LaMarr, states the Aug. 23, 2020, shooting was unjustified, as their client had made no threats toward any of the responding officers, including Rebecca Meronek and Vincent Arenas.
Authorities reportedly approached 29-year-old Blake as he was getting into his SUV with his three children in the backseat. Officers said they attempted to arrest Blake after realizing he had an open warrant stemming from a sexual assault charge that has since been dropped. The lawsuit states Blake became afraid “he was about to be attacked by the police,” which is why he tensed up as soon as Sheskey grabbed his shirt just moments before opening fire.
Officers claimed Blake was armed with a knife during the incident; however, Blake’s legal team states their client never brandished the weapon or threatened to use it.
“After (Blake) had thrown the knife to the floor in full view of (Sheskey), Defendant SHESKEY continued to pull back on the T-shirt of Plaintiff BLAKE,” the lawsuit states, as reported by Kenosha News. “At a time when Plaintiff BLAKE had visibly dropped the folding knife in full view of the officer, Defendant SHESKEY fired a total of seven shots at point blank range with one hand and fired his semi-automatic pistol with the other.”
Wisconsin prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges against Sheskey or the other involved officers. The shooting ignited nationwide demonstrations; one of which ended in more bloodshed and death.
Blake is accusing Sheskey of “excessive and unnecessary” force. He claims he has been unable to work or complete everyday tasks due to his injuries. He is now seeking unspecified damages.