Rusten Sheskey will face no criminal charges for firing seven shots into 29-year-old Jacob Blake in late August. Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley announced his decision just a few hours ago.
“It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense,” Graveley told reporters. “I’ll also tell you…that no charge will be filed against Jacob Blake in regards to this incident as well.”
The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down and sparked protests in Madison, Milwaukee and Kenosha — with demonstrators calling for Sheskey’s arrest.
In a highly unusual press conference this afternoon, which at times mimicked the form of a trial, Graveley spent more than an hour defending his decision not to file charges against Sheskey. He argued that the claims that Blake was unarmed at the time of the shooting are false, and he had a knife on his person during the altercation.
Graveley said that a viral video of the shooting failed to accurately portray the scene.
According to Graveley, Blake also had an active warrant out for his arrest and, therefore, the responding officers were required to apprehend him.
State law enacted in 2014, and partially motivated by the Madison police shooting of Paul Heenan, requires outside investigation of officer-involved shootings. The State Department of Justice wrapped up its initial investigation in early October.
From there, the Department’s findings went to a third-party, independent investigator: former Madison Chief of Police Noble Wray, who was Madison Chief of Police when Heenan was killed in 2012. Wray has spent the past three months investigating and analyzing the findings, before making his final recommendations to Graveley.
Speaking at today’s press conference, Wray said that Blake repeatedly resisted arrest during the altercation, and that it was a rapidly-evolving situation.
“In this particular case, you’ve heard the DA describe this, I would call it extremely active resisting,” Wray said.
Shortly after the announcement, Blake family attorney Benjamin Crump tweeted his immense disappointment and said the decision failed Blake and a community demanding justice.
This isn’t the news we hoped for, but our work is not done and hope is not lost. We must broaden the fight for justice on behalf of Jacob Blake and the countless other Black victims of racial injustice and police brutality. #JusticeForJacobBlake
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 5, 2021
Yesterday, Governor Evers activated 500 National Guard troops to Kenosha, and the city’s council approved a potential curfew. Also last night, Blake’s family held a vigil calling for criminal charges.
Multiple media outlets report that the city has gone into lockdown — streets are closed down, businesses are boarded up and a protective barrier has been erected around the county courthouse.
The Kenosha District Attorney’s full report on the shooting of Jacob Blake can be found here.
Noble Wray’s full recommendations can be found here.
(PHOTO: Protesters demand the arrest of Rusten Sheskey in August / Jonah Chester)