Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday that officer Rusten Sheskey will not face criminal charges for shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him 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 announced four months after the shooting. “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.”
Gravely explained his decision by saying Sheskey acted in self-defense after officers tried using a taser on Blake and wrestling him down. The DA added that Blake was resisting arrest and carrying a knife before Sheskey opened fire.
“It’s really evidence about the perspective of Officer Sheskey at each moment and what would a reasonable officer do at each moment,” Graveley said. “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.”
Blake was shot this past August after officers responded to a domestic disturbance call. Video footage showed Sheskey follow Blake down as he walked away from him and refused to stop. The officer pursued around the other side of his SUV and shot the 29-year-old seven times in front of his children. The footage sparked outrage across the nation and was the source of protests throughout Kenosha.
As a result of the shooting, Blake is paralyzed from the waist down and is undergoing spinal cord rehab.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsels Patrick A. Salvi II and B’Ivory LaMarr released a statement expressing disappointment in Graveley, stating that his decision “further destroys trust in our justice system.”
“We feel this decision failed not only Jacob and his family, but the community that protested and demanded justice,” the statement read. “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.”
Source: Associated Press